The death toll from a powerful earthquake in West Sulawesi has jumped to 78, authorities said Monday, with thousands left homeless as rescuers raced to find anyone still alive under mountains of rubble.
Hospitals were overrun with hundreds of injured after the 6.2-magnitude quake struck in the early hours of Friday, triggering panic among residents of the island, which was hit by a 2018 quake-tsunami disaster that killed thousands. Rescuers have spent days hauling corpses from beneath crumpled buildings in Mamuju, a city of 110,000 people in West Sulawesi province, where a hospital was flattened and a shopping mall lay in ruins. Others were killed south of the city.
The official death toll could still climb. Aerial images from the devastated seaside city showed buildings reduced to a tangled mass of twisted metal and chunks of concrete, including the regional governor’s office.
It was unclear how many more bodies could be under the debris, or if there was anyone still trapped but alive more than two days after the disaster. Authorities have not given a figure for how many survivors have been rescued.
Corpses were recovered from under a collapsed hospital, while five members of a family of eight were found dead in the crumpled remains of their home.
The thousands left homeless by the quake took to makeshift shelters — many little more than tarpaulin-covered tents filled with whole families — that were lashed by heavy monsoon downpours.
They said they were running low on food, blankets and other aid, as emergency supplies were rushed to the hard-hit region. Many survivors are unable to return to their destroyed homes or were too scared to go back fearing a tsunami sparked by aftershocks, which are common after strong earthquakes.
In neighboring Kalimantan, Indonesia’s section of Borneo island, at least five people had died in heavy flooding while dozens more were missing, according to reports, while floods have killed at least five people in Manado, hundreds of kilometers north of the quake disaster in Sulawesi.
Landslides in West Java killed at least 28 this week as the rainy season heaps misery on parts of the sprawling nation. At the eastern end of Java island, rumbling Mount Semeru erupted late Saturday, shooting a plume of ash and debris some 4.5 kilometers into the sky, as bright red lava flowed down its crater.