Series of quakes rock eastern Indonesia, three killed (Second lead)

January 4th, 2009 - 11:38 am ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, Jan 4 (Xinhua) A series of powerful earthquakes rattled the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua Sunday morning, killing at least three people and collapsing a number of buildings, officials said.A 7.2-magnitude quake hit the province at 4:43 a.m. with its epicentre lying at the sea bed about 135 km northwest of Manokwari, the provincial capital of West Papua, the Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) said.

The quake was followed by a series of aftershocks, sparking panic among residents and deterring them from returning to their homes.

The aftershocks included a 7.6-magnitude quake with its epicentre on land about 76 km northwest of Manokwari. The quake struck about two hours after the first tremor, a BMG official in Jakarta said.

The Detik.com online news portal quoted a BMG official as saying that three people, including a child, were killed in the disaster. Three more people were also injured, the official said.

A number of buildings - including two three-story hotels, the Mutiara and Kalidingin - collapsed following the second powerful quake.

Search and rescue work are under way at the collapsed building sites, and more casualties are feared.

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

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck in Dec 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia’s Aceh province and around 500,000 homeless.

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