At least 34 killed as earthquake hits Indonesian island

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A strong earthquake has shaken Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, toppling homes and buildings, triggering landslides and killing at least 34 people.

More than 600 people were injured during the shallow magnitude 6.2 quake, which sent people fleeing their homes just after midnight on Friday.

Authorities are still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas. There were reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

Indonesia Earthquake
Rescuers search for survivors in West Sulawesi (Sadly Ashari Said/AP)

“Please help me, it hurts,” she told rescuers, who said an excavator was needed to save the girl and others trapped in collapsed buildings.

Other images showed a severed bridge and damaged and flattened houses. TV stations reported the earthquake damaged part of a hospital and patients were moved to an emergency tent outside.

Another video showed a father crying, asking for help to save his children buried under their toppled house. “They are trapped inside, please help,” he cried.

Thousands of displaced people were evacuated to temporary shelters.

Indonesia Earthquake
Motorists ride past the wreckage of a damaged car in Mamuju (Sadly Ashari Said/AP)

The quake was centred 22 miles south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, at a depth of 11 miles, the US Geological Survey said.

The disaster agency said the death toll climbed to 34 as rescuers in Mamuju retrieved 26 bodies trapped in the rubble of collapsed homes and buildings.

The agency said in a statement that eight people were killed and 637 injured in the neighbouring district of Majene.

It said at least 300 houses and a health clinic were damaged and about 15,000 people were being housed in temporary shelters in the district. Power and phones were down in many areas.

West Sulawesi administration secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor’s office building was among those that collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remain trapped, including two security guards.

Indonesia Earthquake
More than 600 people were injured (Rudy Akdyaksyah/AP)

“We are racing against time to rescue them,” Mr Rahmanjaya said.

Among the dead in Majene were three people killed when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said he district’s disaster agency.

A spokesman said although the inland earthquake did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, people along coastal areas ran to higher ground for shelter.

Landslides were set off in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to Majene district, said Raditya Jati, the disaster agency’s spokesperson.

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

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