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At least 81 people killed, hundreds injured as M6.2 earthquake hits West Sulawesi, Indonesia

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At least 81 people have been killed and more than 600 injured after a shallow M6.2 earthquake hit West Sulawesi, Indonesia at 18:28 UTC on January 14, 2021 (01:28 LT, January 15). Many people are still trapped under the rubble and rescue workers fear the death toll will continue rising. The quake was preceded by M5.7 at 06:35 UTC.

According to Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, the epicenter was located 6 km (3.7 miles) NE of Majene city (population 37 715).

Strong shaking in the city lasted up to 7 seconds, damaging 300 houses.

Most of the deaths were reported in Mamuju (population 15 000).

Severe damage was reported in both Majene and Mamuju, including badly damaged military command offices, hotels, and government buildings.

Safaruddin Sanusi, head of West Sulawesi's Communications and Information Department, told CNN that nearly half of the buildings in Mamuju have been destroyed.

Three of Mamuju's largest hospitals were badly damaged and one collapsed — Mitra Manakara, with patients and staff still trapped under the rubble.

"The hospital is flattened — it collapsed," one of the rescuers said.

BNPB said a series of earthquakes in the past 24 hours had caused at least three landslides and electricity had been cut.

Rescuers are still searching for survivors, hampered by a lack of heavy equipment and lack of communication among rescue teams.

The full extent of the damage is still emerging.

Authorities warned residents that the area could be hit by strong aftershocks and to avoid the beachfront in case of a tsunami.

"The aftershocks could be as strong, or stronger, than this morning's quake," Dwikorita Karnawati, chief of the meteorological agency, said. "There is potential for a tsunami from subsequent aftershocks… Don't wait for a tsunami first because they can happen very quickly," she added.

Featured image credit: Jakarta Post (stillshot)

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