Powerful quake hits Indonesia again on Thursday

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Jambi province in central Sumatra Thursday morning, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, seismologists said.

The quake struck at 8:52 am (0152 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres, about 46 kilometres south-east of Sungaipenuh in Jambi province, Indonesia’s National Meteorological and Geophysics Agency (BMG) said.

The agency said there were no immediate reports of injury or structural damage from the quake, the second powerful earthquake to jolt Indonesia’s Sumatra in less than 24 hours.

On Wednesday afternoon, a powerful 7.6-magnitude quake occurred off western Sumatra province, leaving at least 200 people dead and hundreds of others trapped under the rubble of collapsed homes, shops, hotels and other buildings, officials said.

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

Priyadi Kardono of the National Agency for Disaster Management in Jakarta said the death toll of the quake in western Sumatra may increase because there are many people still trapped in buildings, shops and hotels.”

“We have received reports that up to 200 people were killed in the quake in West Sumatra.”

At least 500 buildings were destroyed in the quake, Kardono said. Another 7.0-magnitude earthquake jolted the adjacent Jambi province, about 225 kilometres south-east of West Sumatra’s capital Padang, on Thursday morning, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, officials said.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the Health Ministry’s disaster centre, said late Wednesday that hundreds of people were trapped under rubble in Padang and that a hospital had collapsed.

Television footage from the city showed scenes of devastation, with hundreds of buildings, shops and homes flattened. One shot showed a buried victim’s foot sticking out from the rubble.

Padang has been cut off as roads linking the West Sumatra capital with other cities were blocked by landslides following the quake, officials said.

The districts of Padang Pariaman and Sungai Giringging are among the hardest-hit regions, with hundreds of homes collapsed, officials said.

Wednesday’s quake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, struck at 1016 GMT off the western coast of Sumatra. A 6.2 magnitude aftershock followed 22 minutes later.

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

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck in December 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia’s Aceh province and 500,000 people homeless. Wednesday’s quake occurred along the same fault line.

Geologists have said that Padang, a low-lying city of 900,000 people, risks being swallowed by a tsunami in the event of an earthquake similar in magnitude to the one that triggered the 2004 giant wave.

Deutsche Presse Agentur

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