Indonesian leader travels to earthquake zone after visiting flood-hit region

A 6.2 magnitude earthquake has been the latest in a series of recent disasters to hit Indonesia.

Indonesian leader travels to earthquake zone after visiting flood-hit region

Relief workers are struggling to clear the rubble of collapsed buildings on an Indonesian island where a strong earthquake killed at least 90 people and left thousands homeless.

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake on Friday was one of a series of recent disasters to hit Indonesia.

President Joko Widodo, who travelled to a flood-hit region of Borneo island on Monday, visited the quake-hit areas of West Sulawesi province on Tuesday to reassure people that the government’s response is reaching those in need.

People displaced by the recent earthquake take photos of President Joko Widodo
People displaced by the recent earthquake take photos of President Joko Widodo (AP/M. Taufan)

“We hope that the assistance from the central government can hasten a rebuilding of collapsed houses and the economy,” he said in a speech after visiting survivors staying in shelters on a football pitch.

Disaster Task Force Commander Firman Dahlan said at least 12,900 people are in shelters in Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene in West Sulawesi. He said the figure has decreased since Monday, when evacuees stood at 20,000 as many fled for safety in the neighbouring provinces of Makassar, Pare Pare and Palu.

Four days after the disaster, the streets of Mamuju were still covered in debris and most people were sleeping outdoors, fearful that their homes would crumble if strong aftershocks come. Sniffer dogs were being used to search for bodies and possible survivors.

Mr Dahlan said rescuers, helped by excavators, pulled more bodies from the rubble. A total of 79 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene, he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

A cat is seen through the rubble of a house badly badly damaged by an earthquake in Mamuju
The earthquake left thousands of people homeless (AP/Yusuf Wahil)

The president travelled Monday to flooded areas of South Kalimantan province on Borneo, an island known for rainforests and orangutans where floods since last week inundated several regions. The floods killed several people and forced tens thousands of others from their homes. Floods were also reported in many other provinces in the vast archipelago nation.

Mr Widodo said heavy rainfall caused the flooding in South Kalimantan, but environmentalists blame deforestation by mining, palm oil and agricultural industries.

The quake and flood disasters followed a landslide in West Java on January 9 that left 40 people buried in tonnes of mud. On the same day, a Sriwijaya Air jet nosedived into the Java Sea, killing all 62 people on board.

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