A new earthquake on Tuesday rocked Palu, the Indonesian city devastated by last month’s earthquake and tsunami, causing panic but no reports of damage, an official said.
The death toll from the September 28 quake and tsunami that hit Palu and other areas in Central Sulawesi province rose to 2,002 on Tuesday, the state news agency Antara reported, citing the local government.
But officials fear that hundreds, if not thousands, were still buried in several neighbourhoods after their houses were swallowed by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake.
“The quake was felt strongly for five seconds,” he said.
Palu resident Taufan said locals ran out of their homes in fear.
“Everyone is still traumatized by the earlier quakes,” he said.
In the village of Silae, several homes damaged by the earlier earthquakes collapsed, but no one was hurt, witnesses said.
“People panicked because the tremors were strong. Everyone gathered on the streets,” said Andika Dana, a resident of Silae.
Another resident, Mardiana Taha, said rumours circulating on the WhatsApp messaging app said there would be more earthquakes.
“Everyone is afraid. We’d better stay outside,” he said.
Shops, schools and government offices in the quake-hit region have begun reopening, as survivors tried to rebuild their lives.
Disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo said damage caused by the disaster was estimated at 10 trillion rupiah (657 million dollars).
He said most of 1,539 who died in Palu were killed by the tsunami.
The disaster agency, citing local officials, estimated that 5,000 people were unaccounted for and may have been buried in several villages where houses were swallowed by torrents of mud in a process called liquefaction.
The agency hopes to end the emergency response period and the search operation on Thursday.
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