Thousands buried as quake hits Sumatra
TOM ALLARD, JAKARTA
October 1, 2009
A POWERFUL earthquake off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra has caused significant damage, with reports of more than 1000 homes being flattened and fires breaking out in the city of Padang.
At least 75 people were killed and thousands trapped under flattened buildings according to early estimates from the health ministry. Power cuts have hampered assessments of the damage but it is feared that many casualties could have occurred from the earthquake, which registered 7.6 on the Richter scale. The effects were felt as far away as Singapore and Jakarta.
According to a witness, the major mall in Padang, Plaza Andalas, was severely damaged while TV One reported more than 1000 homes collapsed in the city of 900,000 people.
In the town Maninjau, West Sumatra, a resident Hafiz told vivanews.com that he saw a hill collapse. ''There was landslide,'' he said. There were also reports of fires, bridges collapsing and burst pipes causing flooding.
''People are trapped under debris,'' one unnamed resident told Metro TV.
Panicked citizens streamed out of buildings in major cities across Sumatra, including in Banda Aceh on the northern tip of the island. People deserted their cars and headed for higher ground fearing a tsunami.
Banda Aceh was hit hard by an earthquake registering more than nine on the Richter scale in 2004, when a tsunami killed more than 200,000 people across the region.
There was no tsunami from yesterday's quake at 5.16pm local time. Padang is vulnerable to major quakes because it is close to the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates.