A powerful earthquake of 6.2 magnitude has hit the Sulawesi island of Indonesia on Friday, killing at least 35 people and injuring hundreds more. Dozens of people are still trapped under the rubble and the search is underway for missing persons. The earthquake has caused several consequent aftershocks and authorities warn that there may be more, which could even trigger a tsunami.
A hospital in Mamuju, a city of some 110,000 in West Sulawesi province, was struck hard and collapsed flat to the ground.
While the quake only lasted a few seconds, residents were seen panicking and fleeing to safer grounds. Videos were released on social media, showing badly damaged residential buildings, hotels, a mall and even the office of the governor of West Sulawesi. A child was seen trapped under the rubble while people around tried to remove the debris with their bare hands.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Raditya Jati, in his most initial announcement after the disaster said three people had been killed and 24 injured. However, scores more have been found dead, hundreds injured and the search is still on.
President Joko Widodo offered condolences to the victims in a video statement, urging people to stay calm and authorities to step up search efforts.
Straddling the so-called Pacific ‘ring of fire’, Indonesia is a land with high tectonic activities. Earthquakes frequent the Asian country. In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands of people. On December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra which then triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.