Hunt for buried survivors after Indonesia earthquake
January 17 2021 12:04 AM
A man looks at the rubble of a collapsed building in Mamuju city.

AFP/Mamuju, Indonesia

Rescuers scrambled to find buried survivors yesterday after a powerful earthquake on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island killed dozens, injured hundreds and left more feared trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings, as monsoon rains lashed the disaster-struck region. 
 At least 46 people died 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.
 Body bags were filled with corpses hauled 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.
Grieving relatives began burying the dead yesterday and it remained unclear how many more victims could still be under mounds of twisted metal and chunks of concrete strewn across the seaside community. Planes and boats packed with food and other emergency supplies flowed in, as the navy reportedly sent a ship equipped with mobile medical services to take pressure off Mamuju’s still-standing hospitals, which have been flooded with hundreds of injured.
 Rescuers said a shortage of heavy equipment was slowing the search effort.  Thousands left homeless by the quake took to makeshift shelters - many little more than tarpaulin-covered tents filled with families - that were lashed by heavy downpours.
 “We’re running out of food. There hasn’t been any aid from the government yet,” 24-year-old survivor Desti told AFP from hard-hit Majene. “Some people are using coconut leaves as mats,” she added.  Many survivors are unable to return to their destroyed homes, or too scared to go back fearing more quakes or a tsunami.
  Worried about an outbreak of Covid-19 in the crowded camps, authorities said they are trying to separate high and lower-risk groups. Mamuju resident Ice said he and his family were buried under rubble when they heard the voices of children searching for those still alive. “They were shouting ‘Who’s alive?’ and after hearing that I said ‘Yes, I’m alive’ and then me and my family were able to crawl out from under the rubble,” said the man, who sustained a broken arm.
 James, a construction supply seller taking refuge at a bus depot, said he leapt from the second storey of his home just before the violent tremor flattened the building. “After shaking a few times, the house collapsed,” he said, adding that his parents and sister also managed to escape. A pair of young sisters plucked from under the mass of concrete and other debris were treated in hospital.
 But the news was more grim for many, as eight corpses were plucked from under a collapsed hospital, while five members of a family of eight were found dead in the crumpled remains of their home.

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