Strong quake hits off Indonesia, one reported dead

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Indonesian residents evacuate to higher grounds fearing a tsunami after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia, in Banggai on April 12, 2019. (AFP)
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This handout picture taken and released by Indonesia's Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the accident mitigation agency, on April 13, 2019 shows residents in Banggai gather in the open after a strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia on April 12, reportedly killing one person and triggering a brief tsunami warning that sent panicked residents fleeing to higher ground. (AFP)
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This handout picture taken and released by Indonesia's Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), the accident mitigation agency, on April 13, 2019 shows rescuers evacuate residents in Banggai after a strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia on April 12, reportedly killing one person and triggering a brief tsunami warning that sent panicked residents fleeing to higher ground. (AFP)
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This photograph taken with a phone shows Indonesian residents rushing for higher ground fearing a tsunami after a strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Luwuk, in Central Sulawesi of eastern Indonesia on April 12, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2019
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Strong quake hits off Indonesia, one reported dead

  • Thousands in Palu were still living in makeshift shelters six months after the late September disaster with at least 170,000 residents of the city

LUWUK, Indonesia: A strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked eastern Indonesia on Friday, reportedly killing one person and triggering a brief tsunami warning that sent panicked residents fleeing to higher ground.
The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 17 kilometers (10 miles) off the east coast of Sulawesi island, the US Geological Survey said, where a 7.5-magnitude quake-tsunami around the city of Palu killed more than 4,300 people last year.
Three light-to-moderate aftershocks occurred in the same area following the initial quake Friday, USGS reported.
Indonesia’s disaster agency issued a tsunami warning for coastal communities in Morowali district, where residents were advised to move away from the coast.
The warning was later lifted by the agency, which had estimated the wave at under a half a meter (20 inches).
Video footage from Luwuk city showed scared residents — some carrying children — running from their homes and racing to higher ground on motorcycles.
The USGS warned that considerable damage was possible in poorly built or badly designed structures.
Hapsah Abdul Madjid, who lives in Luwuk city in Banggai district, Central Sulawesi, where the tremor was felt strongly, said people fled to higher ground and the electricity was cut, adding that residents panicked as fears soared over an imminent tsunami.
One person trying to flee fell and died, Kompas.com news website reported, citing a provincial health worker.
Kompas identified the victim as Daeng Pasang, 66.
The tremor off the eastern coast of Sulawesi is on the other side of the island from disaster-hit Palu, where residents still felt the quake despite being hundreds of kilometers away.
“I ran straight outside after the earthquake — everything was swaying,” 29-year-old Palu resident Mahfuzah told AFP.

Thousands in Palu were still living in makeshift shelters six months after the late September disaster, with at least 170,000 residents of the city and surrounding districts displaced and entire neighborhoods still in ruins, despite life returning to normal in other areas of the tsunami-struck city.
The force of last year’s quake saw entire neighborhoods levelled by liquefaction — a process where the ground starts behaving like a liquid and swallows up the earth like quicksand.
Apart from the damage to tens of thousands of buildings, the disaster destroyed fishing boats, shops and irrigation systems, robbing residents of their income.
Indonesia has said the damage bill in Palu topped $900 million. The World Bank has offered the country up to $1 billion in loans to get the city back on its feet.
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates collide.
On boxing day December 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck westernmost Aceh province, causing a tsunami and killing more than 170,000 in Indonesia.
Last year was also particularly tough, when Indonesia experienced more than 2,500 disasters ranging from a series of deadly earthquakes to killer landslides and volcanic eruptions.
The sprawling archipelago is dotted with more than 100 volcanoes, including one in the middle of the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra islands that erupted in late 2018 and unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 400 people.


Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

Updated 40 min 58 sec ago
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Sri Lanka’s president orders execution of 4 drug convicts

  • The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment
  • President Maithripala Sirisena says narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s president said on Wednesday that he has ordered the executions of four drug offenders who will be hanged in prison soon, amid alarm over drug-related crimes in this Indian Ocean island nation.
The executions if carried out will end a 43-year moratorium on capital punishment.
President Maithripala Sirisena told a media discussion on Wednesday that he has signed the death warrants including the days of the executions and sent them to prison authorities.
He said narcotic drugs have become a serious menace across the country with 300,000 addicts. According to Sirisena, 60 percent of 24,000 inmates have been jailed for drug-related offenses. Sri Lanka prisons are built to accommodate 11,000 people.
Sri Lanka last executed a prisoner in 1976. Currently, 1,299 prisoners are on death row, including 48 convicted of drug offenses.
Prison authorities are now in the process of recruiting two hangmen after two others quit without executing anyone.
At present, 26 people have been shortlisted for a two-day training, said Bandula Jayasinghe, an official at the Justice and Prison Reforms Ministry.
Drug trafficking is a capital offense in Sri Lanka, which authorities believe is used by peddlers as a transit hub.
Rights groups and foreign governments including the EU have previously criticized Sirisena’s suggestions to revive the death penalty, saying there is no perfect criminal justice system and the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated.
Sirisena, who visited the Philippines in January, praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs as “an example to the world.” Thousands of suspects, mostly urban poor, have been slain since Duterte took office in 2016. Rights groups have denounced what they say are extrajudicial killings. Police say most of the suspects were killed in encounters with officers.
Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, a religion that advocates non-violence. Sirisena has previously said the country has had positive influences from all religions but tough law enforcement is necessary to curb crime and maintain order.
In April, police publicly destroyed 770 kilograms (1,695 pounds) of drugs seized in 2016 and 2017. Police have seized 731 kilograms (1,608 pounds) of heroin, 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cocaine and 1,607 kilograms (3,535 pounds) of marijuana so far this year.
Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in Sri Lanka, followed by heroin and cocaine. Drug-related arrests rose 2 percent in 2017 from the previous year to 81,156.