The death toll stands at 45 while 190 people are treated for serious injuries and 15,000 residents have sought temporary shelter.
A aftershock hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island on Saturday as rescuers searched for people trapped under the rubble after an earthquake that killed at least 45 people, injured hundreds and sent thousands to flee to terror.
Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency said no damage or casualties were reported from the 5.0-magnitude aftershock in Mamuju and Majene districts in West Sulawesi a day after the earthquake in magnitude 6.2.
Friday earthquake sparked panic among residents of the island, which was hit by a tsunami earthquake in 2018 that killed thousands of people.
Dozens of bodies were transported under crumpled buildings in Mamuju, a town of around 110,000 residents, while others were killed in the southern part of the region after the earthquake.
“The latest data we have shows 45 dead,” said Arianto of the Mamuju Rescue Agency, who, like many Indonesians, has only one name.
The record was 42 Friday night.
Authorities did not give a figure on the number of residents who could be trapped under leveled buildings, including a collapsed hospital with more than a dozen patients and staff inside.
At least one hotel partially collapsed, while the office of the regional governor also suffered significant damage.
Solidarity of the Pope
About 15,000 residents fled to temporary shelters and nearly 190 people were treated for serious injuries, local authorities said.
The Pope said he was “saddened” to learn of the earthquake.
“His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his deep solidarity with all those affected by this natural disaster,” the Vatican said in a statement.
“He prays for the rest of the deceased, the healing of the wounded and the consolation of all who mourn.
Footage from Friday’s scene showed locals trying to flee Mamuju by car and motorbike as they passed corrugated iron roofs and other construction debris strewn by the side of the road.
But landslides triggered by heavy rains and the earthquake blocked the main access road out of the seaside town.
The meteorological agency warned residents that the area could be affected by strong aftershocks and avoid the waterfront in the event of a tsunami.
The city’s airport was also damaged, authorities said.
The Indonesian Red Cross said it was rushing medical and relief supplies to the scene as teams scrambled to help locate the trapped residents.
Save the Children warned that young people were among the most at risk.
“Although the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake remains uncertain, we know that children are often the most vulnerable after a disaster,” he said.
“It will be essential that children come first in any response, as they may have witnessed the death of loved ones or be separated from their parents.”
The epicenter of the earthquake was 36 km (22 miles) south of Mamuju and it had a relatively shallow depth of 18 km (11 miles).
Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide.
In 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi left more than 4,300 dead or missing.
On December 26, 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that claimed 220,000 lives across the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.