Three killed, 25 injured as powerful quake hits Indonesia

February 20th, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)
Jakarta, Feb 20 (Xinhua) At least three people were killed and 25 seriously injured in Siemelu island of Indonesia’s Aceh province after a powerful earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale rocked the province Wednesday, the health ministry said. “Three people were killed and 25 others suffered from serious injuries,” Rustam Pakaya, head of the ministry’s crisis centre, said. The victims were injured in the collapse of buildings, he added.

The toll was expected to rise, as many buildings collapsed and the rescue operation is still going on, said Pakaya. “Telecommunication cut has hampered the coordination in the rescue effort,” he added.

Hundred of buildings collapsed in the powerful earthquake, which struck at 15:08 Jakarta time (0808 GMT) with epicentre 42 km northwest Sinabang town in Siemelu Island and 30 km beneath the earth.

Indonesia’s Meteorological and Geophysics Agency put the magnitude of the quake at 6.6, while the Hong Kong Observatory said the quake was measured at 7.6 on the Richter scale.

Meiky Pondianto, a military officer in charge at the Aceh provincial military command, confirmed the damage. He said by telephone, “The district office, health clinic, tax office buildings and residence houses damaged.”

The powerful quake triggered tsunami alerts by Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre for the resort island of Phuket and five nearby provinces and by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for Indonesia. Both centres later lifted the tsunami alerts.

Pakaya, said hundred of people in Siemelu island, the closest area to the epicentre, fled homes and ran away to higher areas due to the issue of tsunami alert.

While in the second hardest hit of Meulaboh town and other areas there were no damage, the National Disaster Management Agency said.

The intensity of the quake was felt at 6 MMI (modified mercalli intensity) at Meulaboh town, 3 to 4 MMI in Banda Aceh, 3 MMI in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra and Sibolga town of the province, an official of the agency, Agung Mulyo Utomo said.

The intensity in Siemelu Island could not be known as the public communication is cut off.

The tremor was also felt in the North Sumatra Capital of Medan, which is located about 290 km from the epicentre.

TV footage showed people stormed out in panic from multi-story buildings in the country’s third largest city.

The quake also shook Nias Island and the Aceh capital of Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, where over 130,000 people were killed in the 2004 earthquake-triggered tsunami.

“Today’s earthquake was not tsunami potential as it was centered inland,” a staff with the agency told Xinhua.

In 2004, over 170,000 people were killed in Aceh province after a tsunami triggered by a powerful quake devastated coastal areas of the province and others countries in southeast Asia.

Indonesia is laid at a vulnerable zone so called “the Pacific Ring of Fire” where two continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic

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