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Earthquake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with series of disasters

Earthquake death toll at 73 as Indonesia struggles with series of disasters

At least 73 people died after an earthquake struck Indonesia's West Sulawesi province on Friday, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, the latest in a series of disasters to hit the Southeast Asian country.

More than 820 people were injured and more than 27,800 left their homes after the 6.2 magnitude earthquake, BNPB spokesperson Raditya Jati said. Some sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to crowded evacuation centers, witnesses said.

Police and military officers have been deployed to suppress looting in various parts of the region, Jati added.

A state of emergency response, meant to assist rescue efforts, has also been established for two weeks, he said.

Dwikorita Karnawati, director of Indonesia's meteorological, climatological and geophysical agency (BMKG), has said that another earthquake in the region could trigger a tsunami.

Straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a devastating 6.2 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the city of Palu in Sulawesi, killing thousands of people.

Just two weeks after the New Year, the fourth most populous country in the world is battling various disasters.

Floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan province have each killed at least five this month, while landslides in West Java province have killed at least 29, authorities said.

On January 9, a Sriwijaya Air plane crashed in the Java Sea with 62 people on board.

East Java's Semeru Mountain erupted on Saturday night, but there have been no reports of casualties or evacuations.

Dwikorita said extreme weather conditions and other "multiple hazards" of hydrometeorology are forecast in the coming weeks.

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