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.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.