JAKARTA: At least 1,100 people are now known to have died in a powerful quake that struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra yesterday, the UN says.
Rescuers struggled today to find survivors in the rubble of hundreds of collapsed buildings.
More than 400 people have been seriously injured, and the death toll
is expected to rise, officials say.
The 7.6-magnitude quake struck close to the city of Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province.
The earthquake brought down hospitals, schools and shopping malls, cut power lines and triggered landslides.
Phone lines in the area are still down so communication is a challenge, but many in Padang have ventured out, driving around the city in motorcycles and in cars to assess the extent of the damage.
A second quake of 6.8 struck close to Padang at 0152 GMT today but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
The first earthquake struck at 1016 GMT yesterday, some 85km under
the sea, north-west of Padang, the US Geological Survey said.
One of the worst disasters appeared to be the collapse of a school in Padang.
One mother, Andriana, told AFP news agency she had been at the school since the first quake occurred, hoping for news of her 14-year-old daughter.
“I haven’t been home yet and keep praying to God my daughter is alive.”
Police said nine children had been found alive but that eight bodies had also been pulled from the rubble so far.
Earlier Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for Indonesia’s National Disaster Agency, said more than
500 houses and buildings had collapsed.
The quake brought down telephone lines, severely affecting communications with the region and making it difficult to assess the scale of the damage.
Health ministry teams and Indonesian soldiers have arrived in Padang to aid the search for survivors. A shortage of heavy machinery remains a problem.
The first flights carrying food, medicine and body bags have started to arrive. Tents and blankets were also on their way to help the homeless, the health ministry said.
Padang’s main hospital received a stream of ambulances bringing in victims. Relatives searched through lists of names pinned on windows. Witnesses to the first quake said residents ran out of buildings in Padang, which has a population of 900,000.
An American in Padang, Greg Hunt, told Reuters this was the worst
earthquake he had experienced. “It’s getting nasty in town. It’s chaos. There’s no fuel, people are looting. It’s getting worse because people have no food, no money.”
Tsunami-hit South Pacific comes to terms with life
APIA: Samoans searched flattened homes and debris-filled swamps, while dazed survivors told of being trapped underwater or flung inland by a tsunami that ravaged towns and killed at least 150 people in the South Pacific. The day after the disaster struck, officials were expecting the death toll to rise as more areas were searched. “To me it was like a monster — just black water coming to you. It wasn’t a wave that breaks; it was a full force of water coming straight,” said Luana Tavale, an American Samoa government employee. Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele’s own village of Lesa was washed away — like many others on Samoa and nearby American Samoa and Tonga. He inspected on Wednesday the south-east coast of the main Samoan island of Upolu, the most heavily hit area. He described seeing “complete” devastation. “In some villages absolutely no house was standing. All that was achieved within 10 minutes by the very powerful tsunami,” he said. A magnitude 8.0 quake struck off Samoa at 6:48 am local time on Tuesday. The islands soon were engulfed by four 15 to 20 feet high tsunami waves that reached up to a 1.5 kilometres inland. The Samoas lie about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, just east of the international date line. — AP