Indonesia earthquake: Sulawesi hospital among collapsed buildings

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Rescuers are searching through the rubble of a partially-collapsed Indonesian hospital after an earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi, killing at least 34 people.

The 6.2-magnitude quake on Friday morning came just hours after an earlier, smaller tremor.

Hundreds of people were injured and thousands displaced by the quake.

Indonesia has a history of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis with more than 2,000 killed in a 2018 Sulawesi quake.

Eight people died when the five-storey Mitra Manakarra Hospital in Mamuju partially collapsed, officials said. About 60 people were safely evacuated from the hospital.

"It happened so quickly, around 10 seconds," Syamsu Ridwan, a local police spokesman, told the BBC. He said the power in the hospital cut out during the earthquake.

Officials fear the death toll will increase as rescue efforts continue. Rescuers have been hampered by power cuts and lack of a phone signal.

The epicentre of Friday's quake was six kilometres (3.73 miles) northeast of Majene city at a depth of 10km. The toll for Majene was reported as eight people killed and hundreds injured.

Video footage on social media showed collapsed houses and a girl pinned under rubble calling for help.

The situation was "pretty bad", Dr Gayatri Marliyani, of the geology department at Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta, told the BBC. She said the governor's office was among the collapsed buildings and confirmed that several hospitals and one hotel had also been damaged. She also warned that getting response teams to the area could be hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Tremors were felt at around 01:00 local time on Friday (17:00 Thursday GMT) for about seven seconds.

No tsunami warning was issued but thousands are reported to have left their homes, fleeing to safety.

Authorities have warned that strong aftershocks could follow the two main quakes and that they could still trigger a tsunami.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because it lies on the so-called Ring of Fire - a line of frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions on the Pacific rim.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by an earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra killed 226,000 people across the Indian Ocean, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed 170,000 people on the Indonesian island of Sumatra after a quake of magnitude 9.1.

- Source: BBC
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Australia to kill US pigeon that crossed Pacific

A pigeon that travelled across the Pacific Ocean is to be put down after running afoul of Australia's strict quarantine rules.

The bird reportedly went missing during a race in the US state of Oregon in late October, before turning up in Melbourne almost two months later. But officials say the pigeon, which has been named Joe, poses a "direct biosecurity risk" to Australia's bird population and poultry industry.

The bird will be caught and euthanised.

Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird says he found the pigeon in his back garden on 26 December.

"He was pretty emaciated so I crushed up a dry biscuit and left it out there for him," he told the AP news agency.

Some internet research led Mr Celli-Bird to discover that the bird, which is registered to an owner in Alabama, was last seen during a pigeon race in the western US state of Oregon. But after news of Joe's appearance made headlines in Australia, Mr Celli-Bird was contacted by officials concerned about the threat of infection.

The pigeon has not yet been caught, but the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment says it will have to be put down because of the danger of infection to local birds.

"Regardless of its origin, any domesticated bird that has not met import health status and testing requirements is not permitted to remain in Australia," a department spokesperson said in a statement.

"The only possible outcome to manage the biosecurity risk is humane destruction of the bird."

It is not clear how the bird managed to make the 8,000-mile journey from the west coast of the US to southern Australia, but officials believe he is likely to have hitchhiked on board a cargo vessel.

While it is possible to legally bring pigeons into Australia, the process is difficult and can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and none have been legally imported from the US in over a decade.

Joe the pigeon is not the first animal to face trouble from Australia's strict animal import laws.

Actors Johnny Depp and his then-wife Amber Heard had to issue a video apology after illegally bringing their dogs Pistol and Boo into the country on their private jet in 2015.

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