Indonesia earthquake: Dozens dead as search for survivors continues

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media captionRescuers pull a woman from the rubble after the 6.2 magnitude earthquake

A powerful earthquake has rocked Indonesia's Sulawesi island, killing at least 42 people, with more feared dead as rescuers search for survivors.

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday morning, just hours after an earlier, smaller tremor.

Hundreds of people were injured and thousands displaced by the quake.

Indonesia has a history of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, with more than 2,000 killed in a 2018 Sulawesi quake.

Eight people died when the five-storey Mitra Manakarra Hospital in Mamuju partially collapsed on Friday, officials said. About 60 people were safely evacuated from the hospital.

"It happened so quickly, around 10 seconds," Syamsu Ridwan, a local police spokesman, told the BBC. He said the power in the hospital cut out during the earthquake.

Officials fear the death toll will increase as rescue efforts continue. Rescuers were still searching for survivors late on Friday, but they have been hampered by power cuts and poor mobile phone service.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo offered condolences to the victims, urging people to stay calm and for the authorities to step up search efforts.

The epicentre of Friday's quake was six kilometres (3.73 miles) northeast of Majene city at a depth of 10km.

Video footage on social media showed collapsed houses and a girl pinned under rubble calling for help.

The situation was "pretty bad", Dr Gayatri Marliyani, of the geology department at Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, told the BBC. She said the governor's office was among the collapsed buildings and confirmed that several hospitals and one hotel had also been damaged.

She also warned that getting response teams to the area could be hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

image copyrightEPA
image captionIndonesia has a history of devastating quakes

Tremors were felt at around 01:00 local time on Friday (17:00 Thursday GMT) for about seven seconds.

No tsunami warning was issued but thousands are reported to have left their homes, fleeing to safety.

Authorities have warned that strong aftershocks could follow the two main quakes and that they could still trigger a tsunami.

Map

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the so-called Ring of Fire - a line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions on the Pacific rim.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra killed 226,000 people across the Indian Ocean, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

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