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Quake toll up to 2000, says Indonesia JAKARTA - A massive earthquake is believed to have killed between 1000 and 2000 people on Indonesia's Nias island, the country's Vice President Jusuf Kalla said today. Already reeling from fatalities caused by the Boxing Day tsunami disaster, the 600,000-strong popular surfing island found itself near the epicentre of the 8.7-magnitude quake, which struck at 11.15pm local time (2.15am today AEST).

``It's stronger because the epicentre is closer (to Medan). The first time was in Aceh area, now the epicentre has moved to Nias. It definitely felt stronger,'' she said. Everyone in Medan immediately feared the massive tremor would spawn a tsunami, she said. ``This one people start leaving the house and screaming, just paranoid, so traumatic.'' Fatheena Faleel, who fled her home with her three children in Banda Aceh after viewing the warning on television, said: "It was like reliving the same horror of three months ago."
Amid confusion over the number of people killed in Nias, with reports of people buried under collapsed buildings, Mr Kalla told El Shinta news radio: "Roughly it is expected between 1000 and 2000 died." In the town of Gunungsitoli, Agus Mendrofa, the island's deputy district head said at least 296 people had died and about 70 per cent of buildings had collapsed in the market district. SurfAid - which is helping Nias recover from the Boxing Day tsunami - said "minimal deaths" had so far been reported there, though the island had suffered a lot of structural damage. "We have nurses and facilitators on Nias so right now our major concern is for their safety."
Fears of a second tsunami catastrophe in just over three months eased within hours as officials in countries at risk reported their coasts clear of the type of quake-spawned waves that ravaged a dozen countries in Asia and Africa on December 26 and killed more than 174,000 in the same region. Tsunami experts were mystified today why the latest quake didn't trigger another tidal wave. But more aftershocks are likely in the region, says the Japanese meteorological agency.
"Possibilities are high that further aftershocks measuring about eight on the Richter scale will occur there from now on," said Masahiro Yamamoto, an official of the agency's earthquake and tsunami observation division. The quake's epicentre of the quake was 250km south-southeast of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on Sumatra, and more than 10km under the seabed of the Indian Ocean.
As Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called off a state visit to Australia, the Australian government announced it would provide an immediate assistance package of $1 million to help with relief efforts. "We stand ready to provide further assistance if requested,'' the Department of Foreign Affairs said. DFTA is unable to ascertain whether any Australians are among the reported casualties on Nias Island, though SurfAid says it has around 10 staff unaccounted for there.
And an Australian surfing tour company has been unable to contact one of its charter boats carrying "high profile surfers" in waters near Nias, though World Safaris' Shaun Levings said he held no fears for their safety as they on the ocean. Japan has kept its tsunami warning in place for nations around the Indian Ocean, saying its tidal gauges in the region had detected a 25cm tsunami off Sri Lanka and a smaller one off the Maldives.The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said a 25cm tsunami hit Australia's remote Cocos Island.
As it became clear no tsunami was imminent, governments withdrew the warnings. "I'm baffled an earthquake this size didn't trigger a tsunami near the epicentre," said Robert Cessaro, a geophysicist at the centre, operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The centre is responsible for monitoring seismic and ocean conditions in the Pacific and alerting Pacific Rim nations and United States agencies.
Centre Director Charles McCreery said earthquakes of at least 8.0 magnitude usually generate major tsunamis. "We expected some destructive tsunami with some distant destructive effects. It was surprising," he said. The latest event also demonstrated "there's a whole world of uncertainty about trying to judge a tsunami based on the earthquake data," he said. In Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province hardest hit on December 26, the quake cut electricity and thousands of people poured into the streets, most getting into vehicles to flee low-lying areas.
The panic gripped at least one camp in Banda Aceh where tsunami survivors have been living. An Associated Press photographer described thousands of people fleeing their tents at the camp known as TVRI. Police with megaphones walked up and down the road, telling people not to panic and to return to their tents. In Sri Lanka, warning sirens blared along the island nation's east coast and President Chandrika Kumaratunga urged people to evacuate immediately to higher ground.
Some people sought refuge in temples and churches while others simply stood on streets several kilometres away from the ocean terrified another tsunami would strike. The quake was felt as far away as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, more than 700km from the epicentre. In Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur and Penang, fire alarms sent panicked residents fleeing their apartments and hotels. In Singapore, residents of high-rise apartments felt the buildings sway. Slight tremors were reported in the Thai capital of Bangkok, and officials issued a tsunami warning for residents in the country's south, where more than 3,000 died in December.
Except for Nias, there were no immediate reports of any casualties or major damage. In New York, the United Nations said hoped to have helicopters out early today to survey the damage from the earthquake.

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Earthquakes in Indonesia

Posted in Earthquake @ 29 March 2005 00:01 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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