A number of bodies have been discovered by rescuers amongst the wreckage of homes and buildings destroyed by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, raising the death toll to 56.
Thousands were left homeless and more than 800 have been injured by the quake, with more than half of those still receiving treatment for serious injuries, Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson said.
Currently, a total of 47 people are known to have died in Mamuju on Sulawesi island, the worst affected area, and nine in Majene, a neighbouring regency.
Jati said at least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters. Data continues to be collected on the area and on those who are affected.
The military and disaster relief services have been working to restore the roads which surround the towns, the damage to which previously hindered rescue efforts.
Jati has now confirmed that heavy relief equipment reached the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the quake hit on Friday night.
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.
Indonesia earthquake: 6.8-magnitude tremor hits Talaud Islands near Philippines
An earthquake of magnitude 6.8 hit the Indonesian Talaud Islands near the Philippines on Thursday, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said.
The quake occurred under the sea at a depth of 122 km, the EMSC added.
It had initially reported a magnitude of 7.2.
A witness reported to the EMSC: “Lengthy shaking, gradually intensifying.”
Another said: “Swaying motion and our drawers opened. Felt dizzy while it was going on.”
It comes just days after an earthquake of magnitude 6.2 struck West Sulawesi, Indonesia.
A total of 79 people died in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and 11 in Majene from the quake that struck early on Friday.
More than 30,000 people had to flee from their damaged houses, and nearly 700 others were injured, many with serious injuries, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Debris still covered streets yesterday and searchers continued to dig in the rubble for more victims in Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island.
The new tremors near the Talaud Islands hit 234km southeast of Caburan, the EMSC said.
Gareth Fabbro, a Welsh volcanologist working at Caraga State University in the Philippines, more than 300km from the epicentre, tweeted that it was the longest earthquake he had ever felt, with at least a minute of shaking.
The Ilkha news agency posted footage of items hung up swaying.
The remote Talaud islands are in the Celebes Sea, north of Sulawesi, Indonesia, and south of the Philippines.