Huge quake hits Indonesia06/03/2007 - 07:16:02
A powerful earthquake in western Indonesia killed at least nine people today, flattening hundreds of buildings and overwhelming hospitals on Sumatra island.
It was felt hundreds of miles away in Singapore, where some office buildings were evacuated, and in neighbouring Malaysia.
The magnitude 6.3 quake killed at least two young children and a teacher when a two-storey building crashed on to a playground in the Sumatran town of Solok, said police spokesman Supriadi, who goes by only one name.
A woman in a market also died, he said, adding that hundreds of buildings collapsed, including a crowded state bank, and that hospitals were struggling to cope with a flood of patients, many suffering cuts and broken bones.
District chief Samsu Rahim told el-Shinta radio nine people had died, but did not give details.
At least one hospital was evacuated following the tremor, sending panicked doctors and nurses fleeing through the doors and startled patients limping behind, some aided by family members.
The US Geological Survey said the tremor struck 20 miles below Solok, on Sumatra’s western coast. It was followed by several strong aftershocks that sent residents pouring into the streets, shattered windows and toppled power lines.
“Everything in my house fell down … a cabinet hit me,” said Rahma Nurjana, a resident in nearby Padang. “My neighbour’s house collapsed.”
The tremor and at least one of the aftershocks was felt in Singapore, 265 miles from the epicentre, forcing the evacuation of several older office buildings, TV station Channel NewsAsia reported.
In Malaysia’s southern coastal city of Johor, citizens fled offices, buildings and shopping centres, eyewitnesses said.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people, including 131,000 people in Indonesia’s Aceh province alone. A tsunami off Java island last year killed nearly 5,000.
Today’s quake hit around 660 miles west of the country’s capital Jakarta.
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