Tue, Nov 27, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Indonesia rocked by major earthquake, three people killed

AFP , DOMPU, INDONESIA

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumbawa island yesterday, killing three, injuring 55 and damaging hundreds of homes as repeated aftershocks rattled nerves, officials said.

Buildings collapsed in Dompu and Bima districts and officials rushed to reach remote areas as frightened residents gathered outdoors, with some fleeing to higher ground in fear of potential tsunamis.

Health ministry spokesman Rustam Pakaya said that three people had died, including a five-year-old boy, while 55 people had been injured. He did not provide further details on the fatalities.

Most of the injured were being treated at the general hospital in Dompu, said a doctor there, Suriyani.

"We received 34 people injured. Some with slight injuries have gone home already but some 20 people are still under hospital treatment, with broken bones, open wounds and head injuries caused by collapsing walls," Suriyani said.

Siti Hajar, Bima health ministry chief, said that one person had been hospitalized and 10 others had slight injuries. She said 20 houses had been destroyed and hundreds more damaged.

Suhartomo, her counterpart in Dompu, said that 10 houses had collapsed in Dompu town and about 90 percent had suffered cracks.

Officials struggled to reach Dompu's Kilo area due to a quake-triggered stoneslide blocking the access road. Syafruddin, a paramedic at a health center there, said more than 100 houses were destroyed.

"People in Kilo, especially women and children, have been camping on higher ground since this morning in fear of another quake and a tsunami, as they live on the coast," Syafruddin said.

The Indonesian meteorological agency measured the initial quake at 6.7, though the US Geological Survey (USGS) later revised its same initial calculation down to 6.4.

The earthquake, which hit at 12:02am, occurred 44km west of Raba and 349km east of Denpasar, Bali, at a depth of 30km, the USGS said.

Repeated aftershocks -- including two measuring 5.6 and 5.7 -- triggered panic, residents said.

"People screamed and ran out of their houses. They're staying now outside on the street and some prefer to stay at the soccer field -- nobody is in their house," resident Adit told the ElShinta radio station.

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