Indonesian teams find more bodies, clear roads after earthquake

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A government building is seen badly damaged following an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Niniek Karmini and Yusuf Wahil, Associated Press

Indonesian rescuers have retrieved more bodies from the rubble of homes and buildings toppled by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake, while military engineers managed to reopen ruptured roads to clear access for relief goods.

More heavy equipment reached the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the quake hit on Friday night, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesman.

Power supply and phone communications also began to improve.

Thousands were left homeless and more than 800 have been injured, more than half still receiving treatment for serious injuries, Mr Jati said.

A total of 47 people died in Mamuju and nine in Majene.

Mr Jati said at least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters. The agency is still collecting data from the area.

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Rescuers search for victims at the ruin of a building flattened during an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia (Yusuf Wahil/AP)

Mamuju, the provincial capital of nearly 300,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. The governor’s office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall reduced to a crumpled hulk. Two hospitals were damaged.

The disaster agency said the army corps of engineers cleared the road connecting Mamuju and Majene that was blocked by landslides. They also rebuilt a damaged bridge.

Many on Sulawesi island are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated Palu city in 2018 and set off a tsunami that caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction.

More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.

Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the ‘Ring of Fire’, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

A massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.


Rescuers assist an elderly man at a flooded village in Banjar on Borneo Island (Putra/AP)

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Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated and more than a dozen killed in recent days in flooding on Indonesia’s Borneo island, officials said on Sunday.

Floods brought on by intense rains caused floodwaters up to three metres (10ft) high, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said.

As of Sunday, 39,549 people had been evacuated and at least 15 people had been killed due to floods affecting 10 districts and cities in South Kalimantan province on Borneo island.

Separately, five people were killed and 500 others were evacuated after floods and landslides in Manado city in North Sulawesi province on Saturday. One other person was missing.

Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains close to rivers.

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