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At least 58 killed in Bengkulu quake JAKARTA - A massive earthquake measuring up to 7.9 on the Richter scale and scores of aftershocks shook Bengkulu on Sumatra island, killing at least 58 people and leaving hundreds injured, officials and medical staff said on Monday.

In the worst-hit city of Bengkulu several buildings were leveled with the ground and hundreds more were heavily damaged after the quake struck at around 11:30 Sunday night, when most people were asleep. It was the second major earthquake to jolt Indonesia within less than two months. A quake measuring 5.2 on Richter scale and a subsequent tsunami hit Luwuk-Banggai island in Central Sulawesi early last month, leaving 45 people dead.

Police and residents combed through rubble on Monday in a desperate search for survivors, local officials said. Panicked residents fled outdoors where they set up makeshift tent villages. Power was cut and water supplies disrupted in the area. Antara said the quake also damaged some 3,000 of 25,000 phone lines in the provincial capital and another 1,800 lines in southern Bengkulu.

Bengkulu Governor Hasan Zen told reporters in Jakarta before going back to Bengkulu that the hardest hit region so far was the island of Enggano off the coast. "On the island, about 90 percent (of the structures there) are damaged," he said without elaborating. He added that Sunday's quake was worse than another major one in 1979. Director of the local state hospital M. Zayadi Hosen said the death toll quickly rose within less than 12 hours since the initial earthquake claimed 12 lives. He said operations had been moved into nearby parking lots and patients were evacuated for fear of aftershocks. The local military set up a big tent to shelter the patients. "Cracks are everywhere in the hospital buildings, and ceilings have collapsed. To make matter worse, we are running out of medicine and blood," Zayadi told The Jakarta Post by phone. Antara said patients being operated on without anesthetic could be heard screaming.

Zayadi said people injured were admitted to the local military hospital and Raflesia private hospital. By afternoon, only about 60 people remained in the hospitals for medical treatment, he added. Officials said the local airport closed operations, with staff there saying the navigational system and power generators had been damaged. Head of the local branch of state electricity company PLN Suwajo Trojo was quoted by the news agency as saying that he estimated the power failure would black out Bengkulu for at least the next seven days. Antara said vehicles owned by the now defunct information ministry were seen busy announcing by loud speaker the week-long blackout on Monday afternoon.

Officials were also quoted as saying that the local airport, banking, shops and businesses would be closed down for at least three days. Following the announcement, hordes of people were then seen stocking up on food supplies and other basic necessities at the few shops that opened for business on Monday. The earthquake and a first major aftershock were felt up to some 640 kilometers away in Jakarta and in Singapore. Officials also said that the death toll would likely continue to rise as they had not been able to contact the worst-hit areas in southern Bengkulu districts.

The initial shock, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, was followed by a powerful aftershock measuring 6.7, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The Meteorology and Geophysical office in Jakarta put the size of the initial temblor at 7.3 and said it was centered in the Indian Ocean some 100 kilometers southwest of Bengkulu at a depth of 30 kilometers.

Earthquake expert from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Sigit Sukmono said Sunday's quake resulted from a movement in the Indo-Australia tectonic plate. "Relief aid for the earthquake victims in Bengkulu will be sent immediately and the technical aspects are currently being discussed by the Ministry of Health," President Abdurrahman Wahid told a news conference in Jakarta.

Meanwhile, Navy spokesman Commodore T. Ontowiryo was quoted by Antara as saying on Monday that two warships had already been dispatched to Bengkulu to deliver food and medical supplies. As well as Jakarta and Singapore, the temblor was also felt in the coastal areas of West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Lampung and West Java, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties there.

Posted in Earthquake @ 06 June 2000 09:42 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink lists all earthquakes that occur in Indonesia. For your convenience we display them in a list and a Google Map. It is as accurate and recent as you can imagine as we check for updates every few minutes. If an earthquake occurs in Indonesia, this is the place to check it out in the first place.

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