MAMUJU, Indonesia (AP) – Aid reached the thousands of people who had become homeless and struggled after an earthquake that killed at least 84 people on an Indonesian island, where rescuers stepped up their work Monday to find those buried in the rubble.
More rescue workers and volunteers were deployed to the hardest hit city of Mamuju and neighboring Majene district on Sulawesi Island, where the magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck early Friday, said Raditya Jati, the spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
He said nearly 20,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 900 people were injured, of which nearly 300 are still being treated for serious injuries.
A total of 73 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene, said Didi Hamzar, the disaster response director of preparedness. He said rescue workers have also managed to rescue 18 people alive from the rubble of collapsed houses and buildings.
Mahatir, an aid coordinator for volunteer rescue workers, said his team tried to reach many people in six remote villages in the Majene district after the earthquake damaged roads and bridges. Aid and other logistical supplies can only be spread across the tough terrain on foot, said Mahatir, who has only one name.
In a virtual press conference, Hamzar said three helicopters were carrying relief supplies to four severed villages in Majene on Monday.
In other hard hit areas. water, which was scarce, as well as food and medical supplies were distributed from trucks. The military said it had sent five planes with rescue personnel, food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers.
Volunteers and rescue workers set up more temporary shelters for homeless people in Mamuju and Majene.
Most were barely protected by makeshift shelters lashed by heavy monsoons. Only a few were lucky enough to be protected by tarpaulin-covered tents. They said they were running out of food, blankets and other assistance as emergency supplies were rushed to the badly affected area.
Police and soldiers were deployed to guard relief vehicles and supermarkets from looting occurring in some areas, said Muhammad Helmi, head of the West Sulawesi Police Operations Unit.
Jati said at least 1,150 homes in Majene were damaged and the agency was still collecting data on damaged homes and buildings in Mamuju.
Mamuju, the provincial capital of nearly 300,000 inhabitants, was littered with rubble from collapsed buildings. The governor's office building had been nearly razed to the ground and a shopping center reduced to a crumpled hulk.
The disaster station said the evacuees are in dire need of basic necessities: blankets, mats, tents, baby food and medical services.
The disaster bureau chief Doni Monardo said authorities were trying to separate high and low risk groups and provide tens of thousands of anti-coronavirus masks for those in need of shelters. He said authorities would also set up health posts in the camps to test people for the virus.
People housed in temporary shelters stood close together, many of them without masks, and said it was difficult for them to comply with health protocols in this emergency.
More than 2,500 cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in West Sulawesi province, including 58 deaths. Indonesia has confirmed nearly 908,000 cases and nearly 26,000 fatalities.
Many on the island of Sulawesi are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated the city of Palu in 2018, the start of a tsunami and a phenomenon called liquefaction, where the bottom collapses within itself. More than 4,000 people died, including many who were buried when entire neighborhoods were swallowed up by the falling ground.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is riddled with seismic faults and often hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake near Sumatra in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Photo: Rescue workers search for survivors in the ruins of a building damaged by an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia on Friday, January 15, 2021. Photo credit: AP Photo / Sadly Ashari Said.
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