Indonesian rescuers search for survivors after deadly earthquake

by AFP

JAKARTA – Rescue teams in Indonesia were searching Saturday for six people still missing after a strong earthquake rocked Sumatra island a day earlier, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens, an official said.

The 6.2-magnitude quake hit the island’s north at a depth of 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) minutes after a less violent tremor Friday morning, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), displacing thousands.

It damaged hundreds of homes and buildings including mosques, schools and banks, forcing terrified residents to evacuate and shuttle loved ones to safety in temporary shelters.

“At the moment the search is ongoing for six people we predict have been buried by a landslide,” said Abdul Muhari, spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), in a statement Saturday.

At least 86 people were injured in the quake, with 10 suffering serious injuries, according to the BNPB.

More than 6,000 people have been evacuated in Sumatra’s West Pasaman and Pasaman city, where rescue workers were using heavy equipment to search for survivors in the rubble of buildings, the agency said.

Indonesian meteorological agency BMKG warned people to stay away from slopes over fears of landslides at the peak of the rainy season.

Authorities in West Pasaman have declared a two-week state of emergency while the search and relief efforts continue.

“People affected by the quake urgently need tarpaulin, tents, instant food, clean water and family supplies,” Muhari said.

Images shared with AFP from Pasaman city, near the quake’s epicentre, showed partially collapsed houses with bricks lying on the ground and holes in the walls.

The town mayor’s residence also suffered damage, with shattered glass all over the floor, according to BNPB head Suharyanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

The tremors were felt as far away as Malaysia and Singapore.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, causing it to experience frequent earthquakes.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake struck the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.