by Audrey Chang ’23
Published Feb. 12th, 2021
On January 15, 2021, a devastating 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi Island, causing severe damage primarily in the coastal cities of Mamuju and Majene.
The earthquake, which also created landslides and aftershocks, resulted in the collapse of dozens of buildings and infrastructure, including hospitals, a bridge, and a flight control tower. Many people were trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings, resulting in at least 84 deaths and over 1,000 injuries. Amidst the chaos, over 27,800 people had to leave their homes in search of refuge and shelter in evacuation camps or the mountains.
The Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency worked with officials and rescuers to save those trapped under the rubble and provide relief for families. Health officials also worked to help those injured and to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. The government warned the public to stay away from buildings in case of further aftershocks or earthquakes.
This earthquake was just one in a string of disasters that have afflicted Indonesians in the first few weeks of the new year. In the weeks before the quake, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea, causing massive floods in North Sulawesi and South Kalimantan province and landslides in West Java that killed several dozen people.
In recent years, Indonesia has faced many other large scale earthquakes, mainly due to the nation’s placement on the Ring of Fire, a shoe-shaped area in the Pacific Ocean stretching 25,000 miles. The ring is composed of a series of volcanoes and fault lines, a hotspot for the majority of the world’s earthquakes.
The Indonesian public has been warned of extreme weather conditions and other natural disasters, such as tsunamis, in weeks after the earthquake. Indonesia continues facing several quakes a week that continue to affect the daily lives of the country’s citizens.