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At least 42 dead in strong earthquake in Indonesia

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MAMUJU, Indonesia (AP) – A powerful shallow earthquake shook the Indonesian island of Sulawesi shortly after midnight Friday, toppled homes and buildings, triggered landslides and killed at least 42 people.

More than 600 people were injured during the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, which caused people to flee their homes in the dead of night. The authorities continue to collect information on the extent of personal and material damage in the affected areas.

Hours after the earthquake, there were reports of many people trapped in the remains of collapsed buildings

In a video released by the National Agency for Disaster Mitigation, a girl trapped in the rubble of a house asked for help and said that she was listening to other relatives who could not leave either. “Help me please, it hurts,” he told rescuers.

Rescuers said they needed a bulldozer to save the girl and those trapped under other buildings. Other images showed a bridge cut down and homes damaged or destroyed. Television stations reported that the earthquake damaged part of a hospital and that patients were transferred to emergency tents set up outside.

Another recording showed a man crying for help to save his children buried under the remains of his home. “They are trapped inside, please help me,” he yelled.

Thousands of people were evacuated to temporary shelters.

The epicenter of the quake was 36 kilometers (22 miles) south of the Mamuju district, in the province of Western Sulawesi, and at a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles), according to the United States Geological Survey.

Indonesian authorities raised the death toll to 42 after rescuers in Mamuju recovered 34 bodies trapped under collapsed buildings. Eight people were killed and another 637 injured in the Majene district near Mamuju, the disaster mitigation agency said in a statement.

At least 300 houses and a health center were damaged and some 15,000 people were in temporary shelters in the district, he added. In many areas there was no electricity or telephone service.

Muhamad Idris, administration secretary for Western Sulawesi, told TVOne that the governor’s building was among those collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people were still trapped there.

The earthquake also caused landslides in three areas, blocking the main road linking Mamuju with the Majene district, according to the agency’s spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

On Thursday, an underwater earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck the same region, damaging several homes, apparently without claiming victims.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, frequently experiences earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.

Ben Oakley
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