Thursday, September 3, 2009

35 killed after strong quake in Indonesia

1,300 homes damaged g Jakarta shaken in 7.0-magnitude tremorJAKARTA : A powerful earthquake killed at least 35 people and forced thousands to evacuate on Indonesia’s main island, where more than 1,300 homes were damaged, government agencies said. The 7.0 magnitude quake, as recorded by the US Geological Survey, shook buildings in the capital Jakarta and flattened homes in villages closer to the epicentre in West Java. An official at the Social Ministry said that so far, 35 people had died, more than 700 houses were badly damaged and about 600 others had suffered moderate damage in the quake. However, Priyadi Kardono, an official at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, warned the death toll could be much higher, as scores of houses and office buildings had collapsed or suffered severe damage, and it was proving difficult to contact some of the affected areas. “Communications with the coastal areas were completely cut, so we don’t know the conditions there,” he said. “No reports have come from those areas, although we assume those were the most affected ones. It’s possible the death toll could grow higher.” The health ministry said it was sending medical teams to the affected areas in West Java. State news agency Antara reported that villagers were clearing away the rubble from collapsed buildings to try to find survivors and bodies. “Many houses are flattened to the ground,” said Edi Sapuan in Margamukti village, not far from Tasikmalaya. “Only the wooden houses remain standing. Many villagers are injured, covered in blood.” “We ran as soon as the quake hit. Then five minutes later my house collapsed,” Edi told Reuters. The quake was felt as far away as Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, about 500 kilometres northeast of Tasikmalaya, and on the resort island of Bali, about 700 kilometres to the east. At least 27 people were injured in Jakarta, a health ministry official said. Hundreds of people sheltered in a military base in Tasikmalaya, fearing the initial temblor would be followed by aftershocks, an official at the disaster management agency said. Indonesia’s main power, oil and gas, steel, and mining companies with operations in West and Central Java island closest to the quake’s epicentre said they had not been affected and suffered no damage. Indonesia’s seismology agency put the magnitude at 7.3 with the epicentre 142 km southwest of Tasikmalaya. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a widespread tsunami. Residents in Jakarta reported buildings shaking, and thousands of people streamed onto the streets of the capital from office and apartment blocks. “The chandelier started moving and it started shaking really strong,” said Jakarta resident Victor Chan, who lives in a 34th floor apartment. “It lasted quite long. I was really scared and rushed downstairs.” “Everything was shaking and my neighbour shouted ‘quake, quake’,” said Nur Syara, from the 31st floor of the same building. reuters Source : Daily Times

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