Damaged roads, lack of gear hinder Indonesia earthquake rescue
(Sourced from PTI)
Damaged roads, bridges, power blackouts, and lack of heavy equipment on Saturday hampered Indonesia's rescuers after a 6.2 magnitude earthquake left at least 42 dead and hundreds injured on Sulawesi island. "Operations were focused on 10 locations in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju, where people are still believed trapped following Friday's night-time quake," said Saidar Rahmanjaya, head of the local search and rescue agency.
Cargo planes carrying food, tents, blankets, and other supplies from Jakarta landed late on Friday for distribution in temporary shelters. Still, thousands spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks and a possible tsunami.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency's spokesperson Raditya Jati said, "34 people were killed in Mamuju and nearly 200 hospitalized." "The nearby district of Majene was ravaged, leaving eight dead and over 630 injured," he added. 300 houses in Majene were damaged and 15,000 people moved to shelters. Worryingly, many survivors said that aid had not reached them yet due to damaged roads and disrupted communications.
The quake set off landslides in three locations and blocked the main road connecting Mamuju to Majene. Power and phone lines were down in many areas. Mamuju was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A Governor's office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall reduced to a crumpled hulk. Two hospitals in the city were damaged and others overwhelmed.
Two ships headed to the devastated areas from Makassar and Balikpapan with rescuers and equipment, including excavators. State-owned firm AirNav Indonesia, which oversees aircraft navigation, said, "The quake did not cause significant damage to the Mamuju Airport runway or control tower." Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that his Cabinet ministers and disaster and military officials have been instructed to coordinate the response.
In a telegram sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis, the pontiff expressed heartfelt solidarity with those affected by this natural disaster. The pope prayed for the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured, and the consolation of all who grieve.
In 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused the soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. Over 4,000 people died, most of them buried when neighborhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. A massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 2,30,000 people in a dozen countries.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis because of its location on the Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.