Sulawesi quake death toll at 84 as Indonesia battles series of disasters
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[January 18, 2021]
JAKARTA (Reuters) - A powerful
earthquake that struck Indonesia's Sulawesi island last week has killed
at least 84 people and displaced more than 30,000, according to search
and rescue agency (Basarnas) data on Monday.
The 6.2-magnitude quake, one of a string of disasters to hit Indonesia
in recent weeks, struck West Sulawesi early Friday morning, sending
thousands fleeing from their beds.
As search and rescue operations continued on Monday, Basarnas official
Didi Hamzar told a news conference that 84 people were confirmed to have
died. The disaster mitigation agency BNPB said that more than 300 had
been seriously injured.
The quake caused significant damage to hundreds of homes, a mall,
hospital and several hotels, and has been followed by more than 39
Jan Gelfand, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Indonesia, said rescue teams had been
working round the clock.
"Each minute has been critical in the race against time to rescue people
trapped deep underneath collapsed buildings," he said.
With thousands displaced, authorities were also working to stem the
spread of the coronavirus among evacuees, including by conducting rapid
antigen tests, the BNPB said.
Aside from the earthquake, Indonesia suffered a plane crash on Jan. 9
that killed all 62 on board, a deadly landslide in Java, while the
Merapi and Semeru volcanoes have also erupted in recent days.
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An Indonesian police officer with a K9 unit sniffer dog search for
victims among the ruins of a hospital building collapsed following
an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi province, Indonesia, January
18, 2021 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Abriawan
President Joko Widodo flew to South Kalimantan on Borneo island on
Monday to view flood affected areas where at least 15 people have
died following weeks of torrential rains.
Straddling the Pacific "Ring of Fire," Indonesia is regularly hit by
earthquakes. In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami
struck Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.
The country’s meteorology agency has warned of continued
aftershocks, along with the risk of extreme weather in coming weeks.
(Additional Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Writing by Kate Lamb,
Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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