At least 81 dead due to Sulawesi quake as Indonesia battles series of disasters


A powerful earthquake that struck Indonesia's Sulawesi island last week has killed at least 81 people and displaced more than 19,000, the country's disaster mitigation agency said, as search and rescue efforts continued on Monday.

The 6.2-magnitude quake, part of a string of disasters to hit the Southeast Asian archipelago in recent weeks, struck West Sulawesi in the early hours of Friday morning, sending thousands fleeing from their beds.

Disaster mitigation spokesman Raditya Jati said in a statement on Monday that 81 people were confirmed to have died, while more than 250 had been seriously injured.

There was also significant damage to hundreds of homes, a mall, a hospital and several hotels.

With thousands displaced, authorities were also working to stem the spread of the coronavirus among evacuees, including by conducting rapid antigen tests, the official said.

Aside from the earthquake, the world’s fourth-most populous country also suffered a plane crash on Jan. 9 that killed 62 people as well as a deadly landslide in Java and the eruption of the Merapi and Semeru volcanoes.

And President Joko Widodo was due to fly to the province of South Kalimantan on Borneo island on Monday to view flood damage after at least 15 people had died following weeks of torrential rains.

Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.

The country’s meteorology agency has warned of aftershocks in Sulawesi, along with the risk of extreme weather and other flood dangers in the coming weeks.

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