At least 75 killed in Indonesian quake (Second Lead)

September 30th, 2009 - 10:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, Sep 30 (DPA) At least 75 people were killed in a powerful earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale that struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra Wednesday, a top official said.
Fauzi Bahar, the mayor of Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province, told Vice President Jusuf Kalla by telephone that the quake left at least 75 people dead and toppled dozens of homes and buildings, Kompas.com news website reported.

The quake struck off the western coast of Sumatra at about 1016 GMT. A 6.2 magnitude aftershock followed about 22 minutes later.

The figure of 75 was higher than that given by the Health Ministry which said it had received reports of 13 people killed.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the Health Ministry’s crisis centre, said a medical team was being dispatched to West Sumatra, the region worst-hit by the quake.

Telephone communications to Padang and nearby Pariaman district were cut following the quake.

TV One television said three employees of a car showroom in Padang were trapped when the building collapsed.

Fires also broke out in Padang, local media reported.

“We have received reports that many buildings, including hotels, in Padang collapsed,” said Rachmat Priyono, an official at Indonesia’s National Meteorological and Geophysics Agency.

Local authorities could not be reached immediately.

The National Agency for Disaster Management in the capital Jakarta said it had not been able to communicate with local officials to assess the situation.

TV One said Padang’s Minangkabau airport was ordered closed until Thursday because roofs were damaged.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an Indian Ocean tsunami alert after the quake, but later cancelled it.

The quake was also felt strongly in North Sumatra, Riau in eastern Sumatra as well as Bengkulu province in southern Sumatra, residents told Metro TV.

“People ran out of their houses in panic. Many are still outside,” a resident in North Sumatra told Metro TV.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the edge of a tectonic plate prone to seismic upheaval.

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck in December 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia’s Aceh province and half a million people homeless.

Wednesday’s quake occurred along the same fault line.

Geologists have said that Padang, a low-lying city of 900,000 people, risks being swallowed by a tsunami in the event of an earthquake similar in size to the one that triggered the 2004 giant waves.

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