Thousands of people fled their homes as the powerful earthquake, with a shallow depth of 10 km struck at 1:30am local time. The epicentre was between the coastal cities of Mamuju and Majene.
The rescuers launched a search operation, looking for people and bodies trapped under the rubble. The death toll is expected to increase as the rescue work continues.
Dwikorita Karnawati, chief of country’s Metrology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said at a press conference that there were 26 aftershocks and more could be expected.
The earthquake and aftershocks have caused three landslides, power cuts, flattening of hospitals and buildings, damaging bridges as well as provincial governor’s office, reported Reuters.
It capped a week of disaster for Indonesia after a 5.9 magnitude quake struck on Thursday, resulting in damage to several buildings. Last week, a passenger plane crashed into the Java sea, killing 62 people onboard. On 10 January, 24 people were killed in two landslides on Java island.
A video, going viral on social media, showed a girl, identified as Angel, trapped under rubble with only her face visible through the ruins. The girl talked to rescuers, who said there were three others trapped in the house.
In the video, the girl tells the rescuers that there is another girl trapped in the rubble. She said she can hear her voice and she is unable to move.
A rescuer asked, “Is she still breathing?”
“Still. But it’s difficult,” Angel replied.
Mitra Hospital in Mamuji also collapsed in the earthquake with at least six patients and their families trapped.
Flight operations were also affected after the control tower of Mamuju’s commercial airport was damaged. The fight control duties were transferred to the avigation office in Makassar, south of Mamuju.
Indonesia has a history of devastating earthquakes as it lies on the “Ring of Fire” – a horseshoe-shaped seismically active belt that runs through Pacific Ocean.
In 2004, a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami on the Sumatra island of Indonesia, killing 226,000 people across Indian ocean, including 120,000 in Indonesia.
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