Thu, Oct 01, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Devastating earthquake rocks Sumatra


A major earthquake struck off the city of Padang on the coast of Sumatra yesterday, damaging houses, toppling bridges, starting fires and triggering widespread panic across the city of 900,000 people.

The head of the Health Ministry’s crisis center said at least 13 people were dead and thousands trapped under flattened buildings.

TV footage showed piles of rubble and smashed houses. Casualty figures were slow to come in because most phone lines were down.

The 7.6 magnitude quake was felt around the region, with some high-rise buildings in Singapore, 440km away, evacuating staff. Office buildings also shook in Kuala Lumpur.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center canceled a tsunami alert.

“Hundreds of houses have been damaged along the road. There are some fires, bridges are cut and there is extreme panic here,” said a witness in Padang, who also said broken water pipes had triggered flooding.

A man called Adi later told Indonesia’s Metro Television described the devastation: “For now I can’t see dead bodies, just collapsed houses. Some half destroyed, others completely. People are standing around too scared to go back inside.”

Officials said power had been severed in the city.

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