Hundreds more flee as lava spreads on Spain’s La Palma

LA PALMA (Reuters) – Around 300 more people fled their homes early on Thursday as flows of molten rock pouring from the Cumbre Vieja volcano threatened to engulf another area on the Spanish island of La Palma.

Emergency crews gave people living between the towns of Tazacorte and La Laguna a few hours to collect their belongings and pets and go to a meeting point.

During the morning, a 4.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the island, the Spanish National Geographic Institute said – the strongest of 100 quakes that have hit the eruption zone over the past 24 hours.

Tremors have been recorded almost constantly since before the eruption.

With no end in sight to the eruption, which is in its fourth week, authorities said they were expecting the lava flow to keep spreading northwest from the volcano.

Red hot lava has already laid waste to nearly 600 hectares of land and destroyed about 1,500 houses and other buildings, including a cement plant that gave off toxic fumes earlier in the week.

The flow has also devoured banana and avocado plantations vital to the island’s economy.

According to the official register, 300 people live in the area located between Tazacorte and La Laguna.

A small group of between 10 and 15 people who lived nearby already left on Wednesday evening. More than 6,000 people have been evacuated on the island of 83,000 people.

(Reporting by Silvio Castellanos, Sergio Perez and Bart Biesemans; Writing by Emma Pinedo; Editing by Inti Landauro, Robert Birsel and Andrew Heavens)

Quake wrecks old buildings in Crete, killing one person

By Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) -An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 shook Greece’s largest island, Crete, on Monday morning, killing one person and injuring several, authorities said.

The tremor sent people fleeing out of homes, schools and public buildings across the island. Damage was reported to many old buildings close to the epicenter, in the east of the island.

The Greek infrastructure ministry said it had sent a group of civil engineers to assess the structural damage and assist in relief efforts.

A man died when the dome of a small chapel in the town of Arkalochori, some 30 km (20 miles) outside Crete’s main city Heraklion, caved in during renovation works, a police official said. The church was largely reduced to rubble.

Civil protection authorities said nine people were injured in the quake, which damaged mainly old, unοccupied buildings in the wider Arkalochori region.

Nevertheless many people in Heraklion rushed outdoors. Schoolchildren were told to leave their classrooms, gathering in schoolyards and town squares.

Supermarket shelves were toppled or emptied by the tremor. Schools in the Heraklion region were closed for the day.

A civil protection official said hotel rooms would be made available for people needing to stay outside their homes overnight, and 2,500 tents would also be put up.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute put the quake’s magnitude at 5.8 and said it was centered at a depth of 10 km, with an epicenter 23 km (14 miles) northwest of Arvi in southeastern Crete.

Earlier, the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) had measured the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.5, while the United States Geological Survey (USGS) put it at 6.0.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, George Georgiopoulos; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Kevin Liffey)

Haiti former first lady calls for help in unraveling husband’s murder

By Dave Sherwood

(Reuters) – The widow of Haiti’s slain President Jovenel Moise called on the international community to help track down those responsible for gunning down her husband in a late night raid by suspected mercenaries at the couple’s home in July.

Moise’s assassination plunged the Caribbean nation, already plagued by hunger and gang violence, further into chaos, and triggered a hunt for the masterminds across the Americas.

Wearing a black dress and sling following the injuries she suffered during the attack, Martine Moise told Reuters in a room flanked by bodyguards on Monday that while Haitian authorities had made some advances, she feared progress had slowed.

“I feel that the process is… stalling a little,” she said. “The people that did this are still out there, and I don’t know if their name will ever be out. Every country that can help, please help.”

Nearly two months after the July 7 assassination of her husband, key aspects of the murder remain shrouded in mystery. Haitian police have arrested more than three dozen suspects, including 18 Colombian mercenaries, an obscure Haitian-American doctor they say aspired to be president, and the head of Moise’s security team.

But they have made public little in the way of evidence.

“Those people (they have arrested) did it, but someone gave the orders, someone gave the money,” Moise told Reuters.

She said she had spoken twice with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and felt they could “find the people that financed that odious crime.”

As security worries have dogged the investigation in Haiti, one judge investigating the case stepped down, citing concerns for his safety.

First lady Moise said Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is also now dealing with the aftermath of an August earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people, must call for elections as soon as possible to ensure stability.

“I think the advice that my husband would give him (is) try to have an election. With the election you can have peace, you can think long term,” she said.

Elections initially slated for September have been postponed until November, and some have speculated they could be delayed further following the quake.

“If they want elections to happen, (they) will,” said Moise.

Moise confirmed previous comments she had made in interviews on her interest in running for president herself but said that she would take care of her family first.

“I want to run for president. I won’t let the vision of the president die with him. With the earthquake too, there’s a lot to be done in Haiti,” she said.

HAITI RUMOR MILL

Amid the ongoing investigation and arrests, conspiracy theories about the murder in Haiti have swirled for weeks.

Friends of the murdered president have told Reuters he feared for his life immediately before he was killed.

His wife on Monday said he had not talked to her of a specific plot against him.

“If he knew he would talk about it… but he never did,” she said. “Because having Colombians, having soldiers here in Haiti, they are here for something.”

She denied social media rumors that Moise had squirreled away millions in cash in his official residence in the upscale suburb of Petion-Ville.

“It is a president. There is some money. But the amount of $48 million that I heard in social media, that can’t be true. Where in the room (can you stick) $48 million?”

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Haiti’s hunger crisis bites deeper after devastating quake

By Laura Gottesdiener

NAN KONSEY, Haiti (Reuters) – In a tent encampment in the mountains of southern Haiti, where hundreds of villagers sought shelter after a powerful earthquake flattened their homes this month, a single charred cob of corn was the only food in sight.

“I’m hungry and my baby is hungry,” said Sofonie Samedy, gesturing to her pregnant stomach.

Samedy had eaten only intermittently since the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14 destroyed much of Nan Konsey, a remote farming village not far from the epicenter. Across Haiti, the quake killed more than 2,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.

In Nan Konsey, the earth’s convulsions tore open the village’s cement cisterns used to store drinking water and triggered landslides that interred residents’ modest subsistence farms.

Since then, Samedy and the rest of the community have camped alongside the main highway, about a 40-minute walk from their village, hoping to flag down the rare passing truck to ask for food and water.

“I’m praying I can still give birth to a healthy baby, but of course I’m a little afraid,” she said.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, has long had one of the world’s highest levels of food insecurity. Last year, Haiti ranked 104 out of the 107 countries on the Global Hunger Index. By September, the United Nations said 4 million Haitians – 42% of the population – faced acute food insecurity.

This month’s earthquake has exacerbated the crisis: destroying crops and livestock, leveling markets, contaminating waterways used as sources of drinking water, and damaging bridges and roads crucial to reaching villages like Nan Konsey.

The number of people in urgent need of food assistance in the three departments hardest-hit by the earthquake – Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes – has increased by one-third since the quake, from 138,000 to 215,000, according to the World Food Program (WFP).

“The earthquake rattled people who were already struggling to feed their families,” Lola Castro, WFP’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a statement.

“The compound effects of multiple crises are devastating communities in the south faced with some of the highest levels of food insecurity in the country.”

‘IN THE HANDS OF GOD’

Just off the highway leading to Nan Konsey, a few dozen men gathered at a goat market, where they sold off their remaining livestock to secure cash to feed their children or to pay for family members’ funerals.

Before the quake, farmer Michel Pierre had tended 15 goats and cultivated yams, potatoes, corn, and banana trees. He arrived at the market with the only two animals that survived the earthquake.

With his crops also buried beneath landslides, he hoped to earn about $100 from the sale to feed himself, his wife and his children.

When that money runs dry, he said, he isn’t sure what he will do. He is still in debt from when Hurricane Matthew ravaged Haiti in 2016.

“Day by day, it’s getting harder to be a farmer,” he said. “I am in the hands of God.”

Haiti was largely food self-sufficient until the 1980s, when at the encouragement of the United States it started loosening restrictions on crop imports and lowered tariffs. A subsequent flood of surplus U.S. crops put droves of Haitian farmers out of business and contributed to investment in the sector tailing off.

In recent years, climate change has made Hispaniola – the island Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic – increasingly vulnerable to extreme droughts and hurricanes. Spiraling food costs, economic decline and political instability have worsened the shortages.

For Gethro Polyte, a teacher and farmer living north of the town of Camp-Perrin, the earthquake decimated his two main sources of income: leveling the school where he taught fourth grade, and submerging his crops and livestock in an avalanche of earth.

Before the disaster, he and his family had been able to pull together two meals a day and draw water from underground springs, he said. But since then, his food supplies have dwindled down to a few yams and bananas, and the water has been contaminated with silt.

Polyte doubted the school would be rebuilt for classes to start in September and for him to receive a paycheck, given the chaos following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July. And with bank loans still to pay off, he doubted he’d be able to secure money to invest in rebuilding his farm.

“We are living now by eating a little something just to kill the hunger,” he said. “And, of course, things will only grow worse in the coming days.”

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener in Haiti, additional reporting by Ricardo Arduengo and Herbert Villarraga in Haiti; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Rosalba O’Brien)

‘Trying to survive’: Scrap metal recycling brings cash in Haiti post-earthquake

By Laura Gottesdiener

LES CAYES, Haiti (Reuters) – After a devastating earthquake leveled tens of thousands of homes in Haiti, some residents have started to pick up the pieces, collecting scrap metal from the rubble to resell and make ends meet.

Djedson Hypolite deftly coiled severed electrical wires at a collapsed home in the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes on Monday afternoon, as he scanned the debris for more metal.

The 13-year-old boy and his brother Dawenson, 9, have been extracting and reselling wires and cables found in the wreckage since the quake struck on Aug. 14, killing over 2,000 people across Haiti.

“We are fatherless and our home collapsed, so we’re just trying to survive somehow,” said Hypolite, explaining the two brothers earned about $5 a day collecting the electrical wires.

The earthquake occurred just over a month after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, deepening the political turmoil in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, where violent gangs run rampant, hunger is on the rise and healthcare services were already buckling under COVID-19.

Though official efforts to clear the rubble have been slow in hard-hit cities and towns across Haiti’s southern peninsula, scrap metal collectors and recycling enterprises are busier than ever, providing much-needed cash for hundreds of residents, and extra hands for clearing debris.

All across the city, residents carried the scrap metal to collection sites on motorbikes, pickup trucks, or balanced on top of their heads. Those who could shoulder the weight hauled aluminum sheeting, which netted 25 Haitian gourdes (25 cents) per kilo, or iron rods, which went for 10 gourdes at a recycling collection site in downtown Les Cayes.

Holmes Germain, the owner of a downtown recycling enterprise, said the amount of iron and aluminum he was receiving had doubled or tripled since the quake.

Trucks flowed in and out of his scrap yard, taking the loads of twisted iron, warped aluminum sheeting, tangled wires and the occasional battery to the capital city, Port-au-Prince. From there, he said, it was recycled for domestic use, or packed onto shipping containers and exported.

Germain sees his business as both an economic opportunity and a public service at this time of crisis.

“If we don’t buy the iron they will throw it away or just leave it lying there, so this is our way of trying to clean up downtown,” he said.

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener in Les Cayes, Haiti; Editing by Anthony Esposito and Karishma Singh)

Aid struggles to reach remote areas of Haiti quake zone

By Laura Gottesdiener

MARCELINE, Haiti (Reuters) – Damaged or impassable roads were complicating efforts on Friday to deliver aid to more remote parts of Haiti devastated by an earthquake last weekend that killed more than 2,000 people.

On the main inland mountain road between the southwestern city of Les Cayes and Jeremie to its northwest, two of the hardest hit urban areas, landslides and cracks in the tarmac made it harder to dispatch aid to farming communities now grappling with food insecurity and access to potable water.

The route was littered with boulders and the occasional stranded truck, according to a Reuters reporter.

The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is still recovering from a 2010 quake that killed over 200,000 people.

The country was pitched into deeper instability last month by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, by what authorities say was a group of largely Colombian mercenaries.

A powerful storm that hit Haiti earlier in the week, triggering landslides, has also made it harder to find victims of last Saturday’s quake, which destroyed tens of thousands of homes and claimed the lives of at least 2,189 people.

It also injured 12,200 people and the casualty toll is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue, authorities say.

In the village of Marceline, 25 km (16 miles) north of Les Cayes, a dozen residents were digging out a vast pile of rubble of what was once a handful of houses. The air smelled of decomposing bodies, and residents said that at least one woman who lived in one of the buildings was still missing.

Many of the hospitals remained saturated in the worst-hit areas of Haiti. In Les Cayes’ airport, helicopters ferried the injured to the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The recent kidnapping of two doctors in the capital, including one of the few trained orthopedic surgeons in the country, has further impeded recovery efforts. Some hospitals decided to shut down temporarily in protest, demanding that the gangs free the doctors, local media reported.

“(The kidnapping) paralyzes the care that the hospital was beginning to provide to earthquake victims,” Radio RFM said, citing the large Bernard Mevs hospital, where the orthopedic surgeon worked.

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener; Additional reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Haitians sheltering in tents grow impatient for aid after devastating quake

By Laura Gottesdiener

LES CAYES, Haiti (Reuters) – Haitians left homeless by a devastating earthquake that killed about 2,000 people voiced anger over a lack of government aid as they spent a fourth night in the open on Wednesday, many without clean water and food.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who flew to visit the worst-affected town of Les Cayes in southwest Haiti soon after Saturday’s quake of magnitude 7.2, had praised the dignity shown by survivors and promised a rapid escalation of aid.

But by late Tuesday, as storm clouds threatened a second night of heavy rain, residents of a mushrooming tent city in Les Cayes said help was scant.

“No one from the government has come here. Nothing has been done,” said Roosevelt Milford, a pastor who had visited radio and television stations in the area, pleading for airtime.

“We need help,” Milford said in a simple message delivered over the airwaves on behalf of the hundreds camping out in soggy fields since the quake destroyed their homes.

Nearby, displaced residents used machetes to shave down the edges of wooden poles to be staked into the ground to support makeshift tents.

Tropical Storm Grace, which ploughed across southern Haiti the previous night, had swept away many shelters and inundated the field, adding to the misery.

“We have the will to do everything but we don’t have the money or resources,” Milford said. “And we need to prepare for the rain coming tonight.”

He and others complained that they lacked even the most basic types of aid, such as food, clean drinking water, and shelter from the rain.

In a country with high levels of violent crime, residents set up their own security teams to keep watch at night, paying particular attention to the safety of women and girls, he added.

Security concerns about the gang-controlled areas on the route from the capital Port-au-Prince, as well as quake damage to some roads, have made access to some of the worst-affected zones difficult for aid and rescue teams.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday that successful negotiations with armed groups had permitted a humanitarian convoy to reach Les Cayes. Media said a truce had been agreed with the gangs.

Jerry Chandler, the head of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, which handles emergency response, said the government was sending aid to affected areas by land. In the first days after the quake, many medics and aid workers had rushed in by plane.

However, flash flooding and landslides in the wake of Tropical Storm Grace, which swept past Jamaica by Tuesday afternoon, worsened the difficulties of reaching remote communities.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is still recovering from a quake 11 years ago that killed more than 200,000. The latest calamity comes just over a month after the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise plunged the country into political turmoil.

HOSPITALS DAMAGED

Authorities said on Tuesday that the earthquake had killed at least 1,941 people, but with rescuers still pulling bodies from the rubble the tally looks set to rise.

In a rare piece of good news, authorities said 16 people were pulled from the wreckage on Tuesday, though as time passes, hopes for survivors dim.

Quake damage has hampered the work of several major hospitals. Doctors in makeshift tents have battled to save the injured, from young children to the elderly.

The United Nations said it had allocated $8 million in emergency relief funds.

Latin American countries such as Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela sent food, medicine and supplies, while the United States also dispatched supplies and search and rescue teams.

Dozens in the Les Cayes tent city hailed from the nearby poor neighborhood of Impasse Filadelfia, where crumbling cement homes, contorted tin roofs and soaked mattresses lined narrow dirt roads.

Water surged into the modest homes after a fast-moving river that edges the neighborhood burst its banks during the quake.

There, too, more than a dozen residents told Reuters that they had not seen any government representatives since the earthquake.

“We are crying out for help,” said one of them, Claudel Ledan. “All our houses collapsed and we need help from the government urgently.”

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener in Les Cayes; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Clarence Fernandez)

‘We need food’: heavy rains lash Haiti quake survivors

By Laura Gottesdiener and Ricardo Arduengo

LES CAYES, Haiti (Reuters) -The search for survivors of a weekend earthquake that killed more than 1,400 people on Haiti resumed on Tuesday after an overnight storm battered thousands left homeless with heavy rain before the weather front moved on.

The quake brought down tens of thousands of buildings in the poorest country in the Americas, which is still recovering from a temblor 11 years ago that killed over 200,000 people, and flooding caused by the storm has complicated rescue efforts.

By Tuesday morning, only a light rain was falling over Les Cayes, the southern coastal city that bore the brunt of the 7.2 magnitude quake after Tropical Storm Grace had dumped torrential rains and caused flooding in at least one region.

At a tent city in Les Cayes containing many children and babies, over a hundred people scrambled to repair makeshift coverings made of wooden poles and tarps that were destroyed by Grace overnight. Some took cover under plastic sheets.

Mathieu Jameson, deputy head of the committee formed by the tent city residents, said hundreds of people there were in urgent need of food, shelter and medical care.

“We don’t have a doctor. We don’t have food. Every morning more people are arriving. We have no bathroom, no place to sleep. We need food, we need more umbrellas,” said Jameson, adding the tent city was still waiting for government aid.

Haiti’s latest natural disaster comes just over a month after Haiti was plunged into political turmoil by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.

Several major hospitals were severely damaged, hampering humanitarian efforts, as were the focal points of many shattered communities, such as churches and schools.

Haitian authorities said on Monday that 1,419 deaths had been confirmed, with some 6,900 people injured.

As hopes began to dim of finding significant numbers of survivors among the wreckage, the storm impeded rescuers in the seaside city of Les Cayes, about 150 km (90 miles) west of the capital Port-au-Prince, which bore the brunt of the quake.

By early morning, Grace, which had been forecast to dump up to 15 inches (38 cm) of rain on parts of the country, had moved past Haiti and was advancing on the coast of Jamaica, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Centre.

Rescue workers were digging alongside residents through the rubble on Monday evening in a bid to reach bodies, though few voiced hope of finding anyone alive. A smell of dust and decomposing bodies permeated the air.

“We came from all over to help: from the north, from Port-au Prince, from everywhere,” said Maria Fleurant, a firefighter from northern Haiti.

Emergency workers pulled a blood-stained pillow from the rubble, followed by the corpse of a three-year-old boy who appeared to have died in his sleep during the earthquake.

Shortly after, as the rain intensified, the workers left.

RISING TOLL

With about 37,312 houses destroyed by the quake, according to Haitian authorities, and many of those still unexcavated, the death toll is expected to rise.

Vital Jaenkendy, who watched as a bulldozer shifted rubble from his collapsed apartment building, said eight residents had died and four were missing.

Jaenkendy and others have been sleeping under a tarpaulin on a dirt road nearby, and were hunkering down for the rains.

“When the storm comes, we’ll take shelter in car ports of the houses nearby, just until it passes, and then we’ll return to our place in the road,” he said.

Doctors battled in makeshift tents outside hospitals to save the lives of hundreds of injured, including young children and the elderly.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who was sworn in less then a month ago after Moise’s assassination, vowed to disburse humanitarian aid better than in the wake of the 2010 quake.

Though billions of dollars in aid money poured into Haiti after that quake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, many Haitians say they saw scant benefits from the uncoordinated efforts: government bodies remained weak, amid persistent shortages of food and basic goods.

“The earthquake is a great misfortune that happens to us in the middle of the hurricane season,” Henry told reporters, adding that the government would not repeat “the same things” done in 2010.

(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener and Ricardo Arduengo in Les Cayes, Haiti;Additional reporting by Herbert Villarraga and Robenson Sanon in Les Cayes; Editing by Daniel Flynn, Clarence Fernandez and Giles Elgood)

Tajikistan quake shakes north India, Pakistan, no major damage

By Neha Arora

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A strong earthquake struck Tajikistan on Friday and the tremors were felt as far away as north India and Pakistan, witnesses said. Many residents ran out of their homes, but no major damage was reported.

The U.S Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 5.9 and centered 35 km (55 miles) west of Murghob in Tajikistan, central Asia.

The Tajikistan Emergency Situations Ministry said the epicenter was 420 km (260 miles) east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe near the border with China.

The seismic service of the country’s Academy of Sciences told Russia’s RIA Novosti that the quake’s intensity was measured at 6.1. The news agency said there were no casualties or damage, citing the Committee on Emergency Situations.

Monitoring agencies in the region pegged the quake as being a bit more severe. India’s National Center for Seismology said its magnitude was 6.3, while the National Seismic Monitoring Center in Pakistan measured it at 6.4.

Tremors were felt in Dushanbe but the epicenter was in a sparsely populated area.

Cracks were reported in some homes in northern Kashmir, the Indian Meteorological Department said. A witness also reported a wall collapse near the northern Indian city of Amritsar, but there were no reports of casualties.

A resident in Indian Kashmir’s Baramulla district said it felt like a strong wind had lashed his house. “My whole house shook and cracks appeared in a corner of one of the rooms,” Firdous Ahmad Khan said.

Tremors were felt across Pakistan including the capital, Islamabad, and northwestern Peshawar, and even as far as the eastern city of Lahore, which borders India.

In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, where a 2005 earthquake wreaked serious destruction, there was panic, according to witnesses, and many people rushed out of their homes in fear.

“I thought it’s the same like what had hit us in 2005. My children started crying,” said Asif Maqbool, a resident in Madina Market, a neighborhood of Muzaffarabad that was almost flattened in the 2005 quake.

Saima Khalid, a resident of the Khawaja Muhalla district of Muzaffarabad, said everyone in the neighborhood came out onto the streets.

The quake was also felt in northern Afghanistan but there were no reports of casualties or damage.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Osborn in Moscow, Nazarali Pirnazarov in Tajikistan Fayaz Bukari in Srinagar, Rupam Jain, Charlotte Greenfield and Umar Farooq in Islamabad, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, Abu Arqam Naqash in Muzaffarabad, Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore ; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Giles Elgood)

Indonesia’s president promises to rebuild city hit by earthquake as death toll reaches 90

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia will rebuild homes and buildings ravaged by a powerful earthquake that struck Sulawesi island last week, President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday, as the death toll reached 90 and thousands more people were displaced.

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake caused significant damage to hundreds of homes, a mall, hospital, hotels and government buildings early on Friday and has been followed by more than 39 aftershocks since.

“Soon the central government will rebuild, then for collapsed houses, the government will help for those that were heavily damaged,” Widodo said as he visited the city of Mamuju earlier on Tuesday.

The Indonesian government will give as much as 50 million rupiah ($3,558.72) for the rebuilding of “heavily damaged” houses, while houses with “medium” and “minor” damages will given up to 25 million rupiah and 10 million rupiah respectively.

“We hope that with the help of the central government, the recovery of collapsed houses, economic recovery, recovery of service processes in government and the bureaucracy will also return to normal,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, a military official who is part of the country’s official search and rescue joint forces, said that nearly 10,000 people have been evacuated from Mamuju and the nearby city, Majene.

Many of them have fled to Parepare, a neighboring city more than 250km south of Mamuju and nearly 150km from Majene, the official said.

Straddling the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” Indonesia is regularly hit by earthquakes. In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck Palu, in Sulawesi, killing thousands.

The country’s meteorology agency has warned of continued aftershocks, and the risk of extreme weather in coming weeks.

Indonesia has faced a string of disasters this month, including a plane crash on Jan. 9 that killed all 62 on board, a flash flood in South Kalimantan on Borneo island that killed at least 15, volcanic eruptions and a deadly landslide that killed 40 in Java.

($1 = 14,050.0000 rupiah)

(Reporting by Heru Asprihanto, Stanley Widianto; Writing by Fathin Ungku; Editing by Bernadette Baum)