A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the northwestern coast of Sulawesi island in Indonesia early Friday, killing at least 34 people, destroying houses, flattening a hospital and setting off landslides, disaster officials said.
Rescuers were searching for people trapped in the rubble. More than 600 people were reported to have been injured in the quake, which struck inland between the coastal cities of Mamuju and Majene. No tsunami warning was issued.
“I’m afraid to say how many fatalities,” said Ardiansyah, an emergency response official for West Sulawesi Province, who like many Indonesians uses one name. “We are still evacuating and erecting shelters. Many people are buried under the ruins.”
An official with the National Search and Rescue Agency said on Friday afternoon that 26 people died in Mamuju, and the Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency said eight deaths had been confirmed in Majene.
Disaster officials said they expected the number of deaths and injuries from the earthquake on Friday to grow as they received information from areas that had been cut off. At least one bridge was destroyed, roads were damaged and communications were limited. The provincial governor’s office in Mamuju was also damaged.
A video released by the Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency shows a girl identified only as Angel trapped in the ruins of her family’s home. Only her face is visible through a gap in the rubble. At least three others were trapped in the house with her, officials said.
In the video, she tells rescuers that she can hear the voice of another girl who is trapped nearby and cannot move.
A rescuer asks, “Is she still breathing?”
Angel replies: “Still. But it’s difficult.”
In Mamuju, the larger of the two coastal cities, Mitra Hospital, collapsed in the quake. Officials said at least five nurses and patients were trapped inside. The Mamuju government hospital was also heavily damaged, officials said. It was unclear whether anyone had been killed in either hospital.
The flight control tower at Mamuju’s commercial airport was damaged in the quake, and flight control duties were taken over by the air navigation office in Makassar, south of Mamuju.
The authorities warned the public to avoid buildings because of the possibility of another strong earthquake. Thousands of people took refuge in shelters.
Six temblors of magnitude 2.9 and above were recorded in the 12 hours before the major quake struck at 2:28 a.m. local time. Nine aftershocks were recorded in the hours that followed.
Indonesia sits on the so-called Ring of Fire, a line of seismic and volcanic activity that circles much of the Pacific Ocean and is highly susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2018, an earthquake on Lombok island killed hundreds, and a quake and tsunami caused by the eruption of the Anak Krakatau volcano killed hundreds more on Java and Sumatra islands.
Muktita Suhartono contributed reporting.