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Aftershock rocks Indonesia quake zone as search continues

Tabita Diela and Stanley Widianto
·2 min read

By Tabita Diela and Stanley Widianto

JAKARTA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - An aftershock hit Indonesia's Sulawesi island on Saturday as rescue workers searched for people trapped under rubble after an earthquake killed at least 45 people, injured hundreds and sent thousands fleeing in terror.

Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency said no damage or casualties were reported from the Magnitude 5.0 aftershock in the West Sulawesi districts of Mamuju and Majene a day after the Magnitude 6.2 earthquake.

Agency head Doni Monardo told Kompas TV the search continued for victims who could still be trapped under rubble.

More than 820 people were injured and about 15,000 people have been evacuated, the agency said. Some have sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centres, witnesses said.

Friday's quake and its aftershocks damaged more than 300 homes and two hotels, as well as flattening a hospital and the office of a regional governor, where authorities told Reuters several people had been trapped.

Access to the neighbouring city of Makassar remains cut off, Arianto Ardi of the search and rescue agency in Mamuju told Reuters, adding that the search will focus on the hotels.

Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency, told Metro TV on Saturday that another quake was possible and could reach a magnitude of 7.0, urging residents to keep out of the water because of the tsunami risk.

The earthquake magnitude scale is logarithmic; a one-point increase means it is 10 times bigger. The difference in energy released is even greater. Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes.

In 2018, a devastating 6.2-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands. (Reporting by Tabita Diela and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and William Mallard)