Palu, C Sulawesi (ANTARA) - An earthquake of magnitude 5.3 that struck Sigi District in Central Sulawesi Province on Sunday damaged at least 28 houses and forced several Lembantongoa villagers to take refuge, a government official said.

As of 7:00 p.m. local time, the villagers remained reluctant to return home because they were still afraid of aftershocks, Lembantongoa Village Head Arman said.

Instead of staying indoors, many villagers preferred staying on the veranda. Several others set up tents at the village's soccer field in anticipation of the aftershocks, he said.

The earthquake had also caused a widespread power outage in the village. As a result, children and elderly people were moved into the tents, he said, adding that the earthquake has so far damaged 28 houses.

The number of damaged houses could likely increase as villagers still felt the aftershocks, Arman said.

Earthquakes frequently rock various parts of Indonesia since the country lies on the Circum-Pacific Belt, also known as the Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet and cause frequent volcanic and seismic activities.

Deadly earthquakes have repeatedly hit Sulawesi Island. On September 28, 2018, a 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit several parts of Central Sulawesi Province.

The strong earthquake that was followed by a tsunami and soil liquefaction in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi Province, claimed 2,102 lives, injured 4,612, and rendered 680 others missing.

A total of 68,451 homes sustained serious damage, and 78,994 people were displaced.

The authorities and humanitarian workers decided to bury a large number of rotting corpses in mass graves.

Meanwhile, material losses inflicted by the twin deadly disasters were estimated to reach Rp15.29 trillion.

The provincial capital of Palu bore the brunt of the disaster, with material damage and losses recorded at Rp7.6 trillion, or 50 percent of the total estimate, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

The material damage and losses in Sigi District were recorded at Rp4.9 trillion, or 32.1 percent; Donggala District at Rp2.1 trillion, or 13.8 percent; and Parigi Moutong District at Rp631 billion, or 4.1 percent.

Material damage in the four affected areas reached an estimated Rp13.27 trillion, while material losses were reportedly around Rp2.02 trillion, the agency stated in October 2018.

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Translator: M.Ridwan, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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