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New quake in Indonesia, but no tsunami

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050329/ap_on_re_as/indonesia_earthquake Indonesian VP: Quake May Kill Up to 2,000 26 minutes ago  World - AP
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2005
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      http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050329/ap_on_re_as/indonesia_earthquake

      Indonesian VP: Quake May Kill Up to 2,000

      26 minutes ago

      �World - AP Asia

      By MICHAEL CASEY, Associated Press Writer

      BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - A powerful earthquake struck
      off Indonesia's west coast late Monday, killing scores
      of people whose homes collapsed on them and spreading
      panic across the Indian Ocean that another killer
      tsunami was on the way. Indonesia's vice president
      predicted up to 2,000 deaths.

      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 earthquake-spawned waves that ravaged a dozen
      countries in Asia and Africa on Dec. 26.

      Almost all the deaths reported after the 8.7-magnitude
      quake were on Indonesia's Nias island, a popular
      surfing spot off Sumatra island's west coast and close
      to the epicenter. Police were pulling children's'
      bodies out of the rubble of collapsed houses, and a
      fire was reportedly raging in one town.

      "It is predicted � and it's still a rough estimate �
      that the numbers of dead may be between 1,000 and
      2,000," Vice President Jusuf Kalla told the el-Shinta
      radio station, saying the estimate was based on an
      assessment of damage to buildings.

      Other estimates varied. A district official in the
      town of Gunungsitoli said about 300 had died there,
      while Indonesia's information minister said between
      100 and 200 had died.

      Two people were also killed in Sri Lanka during a
      panicky evacuation from the coast in a Tamil
      rebel-held area, authorities said.

      The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck about
      19 miles under the seabed, some 155 miles
      south-southeast of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh
      province on Sumatra island. It was centered just 110
      miles southeast of December's 9.0-magnitude temblor �
      the world's most powerful in 40 years.

      Monday's wallop, although very powerful, was but a
      fraction of the earlier quake. In explosive power,
      December's quake was equal to 100 million pounds of
      TNT; it caused the seabed to spring up as much as 60
      feet.

      Terrified of a disaster of equal proportions, sirens
      sounded throughout the region as authorities issued
      tsunami alerts for six countries after the quake
      struck at 11:06 p.m. as many people were sleeping.

      Women clutching children ran into the darkened streets
      of Banda Aceh, crying and chanting "Allahu Akbar," or
      "God is Great." Others grabbed small bags of clothes
      and fled their tents and homes for higher ground.

      Another man rushed instead to the local mosque, saying
      "Where can I go, you can't outrun a tsunami."

      The quake lasted two minutes and briefly cut
      electricity in Banda Aceh. Thousands poured into the
      streets, where flickering campfires and motorbike and
      car headlights provided the only lighting.

      People grabbed small bags of clothes as they fled
      their tents and homes. Many were crying and jumping
      into cars and onto motorbikes and pedicabs to head for
      higher ground. Two women wearing prayer shawls and
      sarongs grabbed a fence to steady themselves.

      "People are still traumatized, still scared, they are
      running for higher ground," said Feri, a 24-year-old
      aid volunteer who goes by one name.

      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.

      "It was like reliving the same horror of three months
      ago," said Fatheena Faleel, who fled her home with her
      three children after seeing the warning on television.


      In Malaysia, residents fled their shaking apartments
      and hotels.

      "I was getting ready for bed, and suddenly, the room
      started shaking," said Jessie Chong, a resident of the
      largest city, Kuala Lumpur. "I thought I was
      hallucinating at first, but then I heard my neighbors
      screaming and running out."

      The quake was felt as far away as Singapore and the
      Thai capital, Bangkok, more than 435 miles from the
      epicenter.

      Nias island was badly hit on Dec. 26, when at least
      340 residents were killed and 10,000 were left
      homeless.

      The devastation there from Monday's quake appeared to
      be far worse.

      Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said
      early Tuesday he would fly to the stricken island to
      assess the damage for himself.

      In the town of Gunungsitoli, about 70 percent of
      buildings collapsed in the market district, officials
      said.

      "Hundreds of buildings have been damaged or have
      collapsed," said Agus Mendrofa, the island's deputy
      district head. He told el-Shinta radio station that at
      least 296 people had died in Gunungsitoli.

      The MISNA missionary news agency in Rome, Italy,
      reported that a huge fire was raging early Tuesday in
      Gunungsitoli.

      "From the window I see very high flames," MISNA quoted
      Father Raymond Laia as saying by telephone about two
      miles from the town. "The town is completely
      destroyed. I repeat, the town is completely
      destroyed."

      But an overflight of the town at low altitude later
      revealed that although many houses had sustained
      damage, the overall level of destruction appeared to
      be lower than initial reports indicated.

      Another police officer, who identified himself as
      Nainggolan, said rescuers were trying to pull people
      out of the rubble, and that many were still panicking
      because of several aftershocks.

      "We are busy now trying to pull people or bodies of
      children from the collapsed building," said
      Nainggolan, who like many Indonesians uses only one
      name. "It is very hard also because there is no
      power."

      "The situation here is really messy," he said.
      "Aftershocks keep hitting every half hour making
      thousands of people flee their homes and afraid to go
      home."

      U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said
      U.S. diplomatic missions in Asia and Africa went into
      "battle mode" to respond quickly to any contingency.
      Authorities worldwide had been slow to recognize the
      magnitude of the Dec. 26 disaster, which killed at
      least 175,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations and
      left another 106,000 missing.

      Preliminary indications were that energy from Monday's
      quake might be directed toward the southwest, said
      Frank Gonzalez, an oceanographer with the National
      Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in
      Seattle.

      The only tsunami reported was a small one � 10 inches
      � at the Cocos Islands, 1,400 miles west of Australia.
      Hours later, Australian meterologists reported a
      tsunami-caused wave of 10 to 20 inches hitting to the
      north and south of the Western Australia state capital
      Perth. No damage was reported in either area.

      Officials said after the December disaster that a
      tsunami early warning system could have saved many
      lives. Such a system exists in the Pacific but has not
      been established in the Indian Ocean. Japan and the
      United States had planned to start providing tsunami
      warnings to countries around the Indian Ocean this
      month as a stopgap measure until the region
      establishes its own alert system.

      But for residents of ravaged Banda Aceh, no warning
      system was needed after they felt the quake and headed
      for higher ground.

      At the city's biggest refugee camp, a voice on
      loudspeaker later announced that there was no tsunami.
      This time, the voice said, people could return to
      their tents.
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