More than 800 people were wounded and about 15,000 others took shelters as a 6.2-magnitude quake, which hit Indonesia's West Sulawesi province on Friday, massively destroyed houses and infrastructures, a disaster official said here on Saturday.
Those with serious injuries have been treated in hospitals and field hospitals set up after the shallow under-land quake struck Mamuju city and Majene district, the National Disaster Management Agency's Spokesman Raditya Jati said.
As many as 189 people suffered serious injuries in Mamuju and 639 got minor wounds in Majene, the spokesman disclosed.
"Now, the patients who were treated in the impacted-hospitals have been removed to the field hospitals," he told Xinhua in a text message.
The jolts have destroyed the Mitra Manakarra Hospital in Mamuju, according to Syarifuddin. S., an official of the provincial social office.
The spokesman said that the displaced persons have taken shelters in 10 evacuation centers, and emergency relief aids have been sent to the affected people.
The risk assessment and evacuation of the victims are underway, according to him.
Damaged roads and bridges, power blackouts and lack of heavy equipment on Saturday hampered rescuers after a strong earthquake left at least 46 people dead and hundreds injured on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island.
Operations were focused on about eight locations in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju, where people were still believed trapped following early Friday’s magnitude 6.2 quake, said Saidar Rahmanjaya, who heads the local search and rescue agency.
Cargo planes carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from Jakarta landed late Friday for distribution in temporary shelters. Still, thousands of people spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks and a possible tsunami.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said rescuers had so far recovered the bodies of 37 victims in Mamuju and nine in neighboring Majene district.
At least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters, Jati said.
Bodies retrieved by rescuers were sent to a police hospital for identification by relatives, said West Sulawesi police spokesperson Syamsu Ridwan.
He said more than 200 people were receiving treatment in the Bhayangkara police hospital and several others in Mamuju alone. Another 630 were injured in Majene.
Among those pulled alive was a young girl who was stuck in the wreckage of a house with her sister.
The girl was seen in video released by the disaster agency Friday crying for help. She was being treated in a hospital.
She identified herself as Angel and said that her sister, Catherine, who did not appear in the video, was beside her under the rubble and was still breathing.
The fate of Catherine and other family members was unclear.
The quake set off landslides in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to Majene. Power and phone lines were down in many areas.
Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi province with nearly 75,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A governor office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge collapsed and patients with drips laid on folding beds under tarpaulin tents outside one of the damaged hospitals.
Two hospitals in the city were damaged and others were overwhelmed.
Many survivors said that aid had not reached them yet due to damaged roads and disrupted communications.
Video from a TV station showed villagers in Majene, some carrying machetes, forcibly stopping vehicles carrying aid. They climbed onto a truck and threw boxes of instant noodles and other supplies at dozens of people who were scrambling to get them.
Two ships headed to the devastated areas from the nearby cities of Makassar and Balikpapan with rescuers and equipment, including excavators.
State-owned firm AirNav Indonesia, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the quake did not cause significant damage to the Mamuju airport runway or control tower.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Friday that he instructed his Cabinet ministers and disaster and military officials to coordinate the response.
In a telegram sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis, the pontiff expressed “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this natural disaster.”
The pope was praying for “the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all who grieve.” Francis also offered encouragement to those continuing search and rescue effects, and he invoked “the divine blessings of strength and hope.”
International humanitarian missions including the Water Mission, Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross said in statements that they have joined in efforts to provide relief for people in need.
Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is frequently hit 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.
In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi Island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighborhoods were swallowed in the falling ground.
A massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra Island in western Indonesia in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
A new U.N. report estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of international migrants by 2 million by the middle of 2020 because of border closings and a halt to travel worldwide — an estimated 27% decrease in expected growth.
Clare Menozzi, principal author of the report by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, told a news conference Friday that for the second half of 2020 “we have a sense that it will be probably comparable, if not more so.”
She said international migration had been projected to grow by 7 to 8 million between mid-2019 and mid-2020.
But the border closures and travel clampdown starting in March, as the pandemic circled the globe, meant zero growth for four months, and an estimated 2 million reduction in the expected number of international migrants, Menozzi said.
By August 2020, Population Division Director John Wilmoth noted, “there had been more than 80,000 travel restrictions imposed by 219 countries or territories across the world.”
Over the last two decades, growth in the number of international migrants has been robust.
Wilmoth said that according to the latest estimates, “the number of international migrants worldwide reached 281 million persons in 2020, up from 173 million in 2000,” They account for just 3.6% of the total global population, he said.
China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad.
The hospital is one of six with a total of 6,500 rooms being built in Nangong, south of Beijing in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
China had largely contained the coronavirus that first was detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has suffered a surge of cases since December.
A total of 645 people are being treated in Nangong and the Hebei provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, Xinhua said. A 3,000-room hospital is under construction in Shijiazhuang.
Virus clusters also have been found in Beijing and the provinces of Heilongjiang and Liaoning in the northeast and Sichuan in the southwest.
The latest infections spread unusually fast, the National Health Commission said.
“It is harder to handle,” a Commission statement said. “Community transmission already has happened when the epidemic is found, so it is difficult to prevent.”
The Commission blamed the latest cases on people or goods arriving from abroad. It blamed “abnormal management” and “inadequate protection of workers” involved in imports but gave no details.
“They are all imported from abroad. It was caused by entry personnel or contaminated cold chain imported goods,” said the statement.
The Chinese government has suggested the disease might have originated abroad and publicized what it says is the discovery of the virus on imported food, mostly frozen fish, though foreign scientists are skeptical.
Also Saturday, the city government of Beijing said travelers arriving in the Chinese capital from abroad would be required to undergo an additional week of “medical monitoring” after a 14-day quarantine but gave no details.
Nationwide, the Health Commission reported 130 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours through midnight Friday. It said 90 of those were in Hebei.
On Saturday, the Hebei government reported 32 additional cases since midnight, the Shanghai news outlet The Paper reported.
In Shijiazhuang, authorities have finished construction of 1,000 rooms of the planned hospital, state TV said Saturday. Xinhua said all the facilities are due to be completed within a week.
A similar program of rapid hospital construction was launched by the ruling Communist Party at the start of the outbreak last year in Wuhan.
More than 10 million people in Shijiazhuang underwent virus tests by late Friday, Xinhua said, citing a deputy mayor, Meng Xianghong. It said 247 locally transmitted cases were found.
Meanwhile, researchers sent by the World Health Organization were in Wuhan preparing to investigate the origins of the virus. The team, which arrived Thursday, was under a two-week quarantine but was due to talk with Chinese experts by video link.
The team’s arrival was held up for months by diplomatic wrangling that prompted a rare public complaint by the head of the WHO.
That delay, and the secretive ruling party’s orders to scientists not to talk publicly about the disease, have raised questions about whether Beijing might try to block discoveries that would hurt its self-proclaimed status as a leader in the anti-virus battle.
Moving from house to house is challenging under the best of circumstances, and even with movers as first rate as the housekeepers and other staff who work in the White House.
But the coronavirus pandemic could be a complicating factor as the executive mansion gets ready for a new president and executes the Inauguration Day ritual of moving out one leader and settling in another.
It's typically a precision operation: Both moves are usually carried out in about five hours. The clock would normally start ticking when the outgoing and incoming presidents leave the White House together to head to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony. The process would continue during the ceremony and the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
“They basically have the moving trucks waiting outside the White House gates,” said Matt Costello, a historian at the White House Historical Association. “And as soon as the president and president-elect leave, they wave in the moving trucks, and they'll pack up the outgoing president's things, and then they'll unpack all of the new first family's things.”
Biden's wife, Jill, said Friday that she and the president-elect had spent the past two months preparing to move from their home in Wilmington, Delaware, and that they were “packing up our closets this morning.”
But things will unfold a bit differently this year.
President Donald Trump, still angry over losing reelection, is skipping the inauguration. He's also leaving town before Biden takes the oath of office, meaning the pair will not be going to the Capitol together. Depending on when Trump heads out, housekeepers and other residence staffers who help move the presidents' belongings could get a welcome head start on the packing and unpacking.
Inauguration planners have scaled back the traditional roster of events this year because of the pandemic, which is now responsible for nearly 400,000 U.S. deaths. A luncheon for the new president at the Capitol has been scrapped, and the hourslong parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House will be virtual.
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That combination of events in the past has kept the new president and first lady out of the White House long enough for the household staff to finish moving in their clothing, furnishings and other personal items.
The pandemic could affect the moving process in other ways.
Some public health experts have said it's important that the White House take extra precautions to reduce the spread of the largely airborne disease during the busy move.
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The White House was the scene of several coronavirus outbreaks that infected dozens of staffers and others, including Trump and his wife, Melania. Biden is at risk because of his age. The 78-year-old is tested regularly for the coronavirus and recently received his final dose of the vaccine.
Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech with expertise in the airborne transmission of viruses such as the coronavirus, said housekeepers and other staff should make sure to wear face coverings because they will be exerting themselves during the five to six hours it typically takes to wrap up the move.
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“There’s going to be a lot of people in there moving things in and out,” she said. “I’d want to make sure that those people are masked, covering their nose and mouths at all times. They are going to be exerting themselves because they are going to be moving things around.”
Marr also suggested that the Bidens wait a few hours after the move is completed to go into the residence.
The White House normally is thoroughly cleaned in between families, said Anita McBride, who as an assistant to President George W. Bush helped coordinate his move out of the mansion in 2009.
“Everything goes through a massive cleaning," she said. Beds are stripped, mattresses replaced, rugs cleaned or replaced and fresh coats of paint applied, as needed.
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The White House chief usher, who oversees the housekeeping staff, typically coordinates with someone on the incoming president's team to learn about their preferences so the residence can be made to feel as much like home as possible, with clothes hanging in the closets and favorite foods in the kitchen.
Once the waiting moving trucks are waved through tight security and onto the White House grounds, residence staff members break into groups to carry out specific assignments. Some will handle only Trump's belongings while others will be tasked with putting the contents of Biden's boxes in their designated places.
The chief usher reports to Melania Trump, who toured the White House living quarters in November 2016 when she accompanied Donald Trump to the White House for a post-election meeting with then-President Barack Obama. President Trump has broken with tradition and has not invited the Bidens to a similar meeting.