Indonesia Earthquake Kills Scores Of People


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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Indonesian rescuers retrieved more bodies of a massive earthquake that killed scores of people in a nation already coping with a string of disasters.

On Sunday, the death toll of this weekend’s quake shaking West Sulawesi province stood at 56, said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

More than 820 people were injured, and about 15,000 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude quake hit Friday. Footage showed people crying and in pain while local evangelical Christians prayed for the nation and a world in turmoil.

Catholics were concerned too. In a telegram sent by the on behalf of , the pontiff expressed “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this .”

Amid the devastation, a young girl stuck in the wreckage of a house with her sister was miraculously pulled alive. The girl was seen in video footage crying for help and was later treated in a hospital.

To save more lives, Indonesian President Joko Widodo instructed his Cabinet ministers and disaster and officials to coordinate the response.

HOSPITALS STRUGGLING

It wasn’t easy as hospitals were damaged or overwhelmed while roads and bridges were destroyed.

However, military engineers managed to reopen at least some ruptured roads to clear access for relief goods.

More heavy equipment reached the “hardest-hit city of Mamuju” and the neighboring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, said Raditya Jati, a BNPB spokesperson.

And international humanitarian groups, including the Water Mission, Save the Children, and the International Federation of Red Cross said they joined efforts to provide needy people relief.

On Thursday, a magnitude 5.7 undersea quake hit the same region, damaging several homes but causing no apparent casualties. It was followed by more than 30 aftershocks, including Friday’s deadly earthquake, authorities said.

Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu in Sulawesi, killing thousands.

MORE DISASTERS

However, this latest earthquake, initially Friday, came while the nation was still dealing with natural disasters and an air crash killing scores of people.

Since the New Year, landslides in West Java province killed at least 28, while
floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan region each have killed at least five this month, officials noted.

Separately on January 9, a Sriwijaya Air plane crashed into the Java Sea with 62 onboard.

reports also said that East Java’s Semeru mountain erupted late on Saturday, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or evacuations.

Authorities warned that extreme weather and other “multi-dangers” of hydrometeorology were forecast in the coming weeks.

PANDEMIC CONCERNS

The disasters came as the largest majority country also began efforts to halt the pandemic with one of the world’s biggest vaccination campaigns.

On Wednesday, President Widodo got the first shot of a Chinese vaccine as his country fights one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia.

The drive aims to inoculate 181.5 million people, with the first to be vaccinated receiving the CoronaVac vaccine from ’s Sinovac Biotech.

Indonesia authorized it for emergency use on Monday, despite reports it may be slightly less effective than competitors.

The Asian nation had almost 26,000 coronavirus fatalities and nearly 900,000 infections on a population of 267 million.

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