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At least 10 dead as earthquake flattens buildings in Indonesia

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Residents inspect earthquake-damaged buildings in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15
Residents inspect earthquake-damaged buildings in Mamuju, West Sulawesi, Indonesia, Friday, Jan. 15   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Rudy Akdyaksyah
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At least 10 people have died and more than 200 injured in an earthquake on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, which has left buildings collapsed and rescue teams searching for survivors.

The strong, shallow earthquake shook the island just after midnight on Friday, causing landslides and sending people fleeing from their homes.

Thousands of people have been evacuated to temporary shelters following the 6.2 magnitude quake, which was centred 36 kilometres south of West Sulawesi province’s Mamuju district, according to the US Geological Survey.

Videos and images in the wake of the quake showed people trapped in wreckage, a severed bridge, and damaged and flattened houses.

West Sulawesi Administration Secretary Muhammad Idris told TVOne that the governor's office building was among collapsed in Mamuju, the provincial capital, and many people there remain trapped, including two security guards.

Idris said seven people were confirmed dead so far in Mamuju.

Rescuer Saidar Rahmanjaya said a lack of heavy equipment was hampering the operation to clear the rubble from collapsed houses and buildings. He said his team was working to save 20 people trapped in eight buildings, including in the governor's office, a hospital and hotels.

“We are racing against time to rescue them," Rahmanjaya said.

Three other people died in the neighboring district of Majene when their homes were flattened by the quake while they were sleeping, said Sirajuddin, the district’s disaster agency chief.

Sirajuddin, who goes by one name, said at least 218 others have been injured so far and more than 300 houses and buildings were damaged, including a hospital, health clinics, hotels and offices.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 260 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.