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At Least 78 Dead After Friday's Earthquake in Indonesia


Rescuers carry the body of an earthquake victim retrieved from the ruin of a building damaged by an earthquake in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Jan. 16, 2021.

Indonesian rescue teams have pulled more bodies from the rubble of residential and commercial buildings toppled by a strong earthquake that hit Sulawesi island last week, killing at least 78 people, authorities said on Sunday.

More than 800 people have been injured. Thousands of others were left homeless.

The 6.2 earthquake, with an epicenter 36 kilometers south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district and at a depth of 18 kilometers, struck after 2 a.m. on Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Indonesia earthquake locator map, Jan. 15, 2021 (Credit: USGS)
Indonesia earthquake locator map, Jan. 15, 2021 (Credit: USGS)

Rescue teams, aided by heavy equipment, have worked around the clock searching for survivors in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighboring district of Majene.

Power supplies and telephone service have improved since Friday, aiding rescue operations.

On Thursday, a 5.9-magnitude undersea quake struck the same region, damaging several homes but causing no casualties.

Earthquakes, volcanos and tsunamis are common in Indonesia due to its location on the “Ring of Fire,” which is one of the world's most seismically active areas.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and a tsunami that followed in Palu on Sulawesi killed more than 4,000 people.

In December 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra in Indian Ocean and triggered a tsunami that killed about 230,000 people in the region, most of them in Indonesia.