Earthquake kills 3, injures 55 in Indonesia: ministry

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumbawa island Monday, killing three, injuring 55 and damaging hundreds of homes, officials said as repeated aftershocks rattled nerves.

Earthquake kills 3, injures 55 in Indonesia: ministry
Buildings collapsed in Dompu and Bima districts and officials rushed to reach remote areas as frightened residents gathered outdoors, with some fleeing to higher ground in fear of potential tsunamis.

Health ministry spokesman Rustam Pakaya said that three people had died, including a five-year-old boy, while 55 people had been injured. He did not provide further details on the fatalities.

Most of the injured were being treated at the general hospital in Dompu, said a doctor there, Suriyani.

'We received 34 people injured. Some with slight injuries have gone home already but some 20 people are still under hospital treatment, with broken bones, open wounds and head injuries caused by collapsing walls,' she said.

Siti Hajar, Bima health ministry chief, said that one person had been hospitalised and 10 others had slight injuries. She said 20 houses had been destroyed and hundreds more damaged.

Suhartomo, her counterpart in Dompu, said that 10 houses had collapsed in Dompu town and about 90 percent had suffered cracks.

Officials struggled to reach Dompu's Kilo area due to a quake-triggered stoneslide blocking the access road but Syafruddin, a paramedic at a health centre there, said more than 100 houses were destroyed.

'People in Kilo, especially women and children, have been camping on higher ground since this morning in fear of another quake and a tsunami, as they live on the coast,' he told AFP.

The Indonesian meteorological agency measured the initial quake at 6.7, though the US Geological Survey (USGS) later revised its same initial calculation down to 6.4.

The earthquake, which hit at 12:02 am (1602 GMT), occurred 44 kilometres (27 miles) west of Raba and 349 kilometres east of Denpasar, Bali, at a depth of 30 kilometres, the USGS said.

Repeated aftershocks—including two measuring 5.6 and 5.7 -- triggered panic, residents said.

ElShinta radio reported that about 100 people in Bima town rushed to higher ground when the large aftershock hit, fearing a tsunami.

'People screamed and ran out of their houses. They're staying now outside on the street and some prefer to stay at the soccer field—nobody is in their house,' resident Adit told the station.

Welfare minister Aburizal Bakrie told ElShinta that it 'appeared that the local government is able to handle the problems' following the quake but staff had been sent from Jakarta to investigate and would assist if needed.

The Indonesian meteorological agency said a tsunami warning was issued for the original quake, though for technical reasons it was not sent as usual by text message to media.

The powerful quake was felt on the nearby resort islands of Lombok and Bali.
The Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates meet and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Kasım 2007, 14:50
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