Sat, 13 May 2000

People flee homes after rumors

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi: Thousands of people left their homes in the Banggai islands regency and fled to Luwuk Banggai town in the Banggai in mainland Central Sulawesi following rumors of fresh strong tremors.

Mahmud Dg. Masikki, assistant to the South Sulawesi provincial secretary, said he had no idea where the rumors of aftershocks came from.

"The people have been transported by the Navy's KRI Multatuli and KRI Kerapu," Mahmud said. "They are so traumatized that the rumors of fresh tremors really scared them."

Some of the refugees are now camping at the Nasional Building, while others are staying at relatives' homes.

Mahmud said more food and medicine were needed.

Speaking about the death toll, Mahmud said 45 people had been declared dead in the quake, which also inflicted at least Rp 100 billion in financial losses.

"Three babies were among the victims. They were three months old, two days old and one day old respectively," he said. (27/sur)