Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Another quake hits Indonesia

NERVOUS POPULATIONYesterday's quake triggered fears of a tsunami, but none appeared. In Java, high waves halted search effors after last week's tsunami


A family sits outside of their tsunami-ravaged house on Friday in Pangandaran, Indonesia


An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi yesterday, causing residents to flee coastal areas out of fear of another tsunami, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and local officials said. However, the quake did not trigger a tsunami.

Indonesian officials recorded the quake at a magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter scale. The Japanese Meteorological Agency and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue tsunami alerts after the quake.

One governor on the island told local radio that he had ordered a coastal evacuation.

The quake struck 108km south of Gorontalo in northern Sulawesi, the USGS said. It was felt across parts of Sulawasi, but there were no reports of injuries or damage.

An official at Indonesia's geological agency said the quake had been given an initial magnitude of6.6. It is common for different agencies to give different magnitudes for quakes.

The agency, which has been criticized for failing to warn residents ahead of the tsunami that hit Java last week, said that based on the 6.6 figure, the quake "had the potential to cause a tsunami."

A local policeman in the coastal town of Luwuk said hundreds of people there fled to higher ground after the quake struck, shouting "Beware tsunami! Beware tsunami!"

Patrols called off

High waves forced authorities to call off search efforts yesterday for hundreds of people still missing nearly a week after a tsunami crashed into Java's southern coast, killing at least 668.

The chance of finding survivors is considered unlikely, but marine police and navy boats have been carrying out daily patrols in search of corpses that were likely swept out to sea.

But others "should have been washed back to the coast," said Rahmat Zaelani, 44, who has worked as an officer with the Pangandaran marine police for almost 20 years. "Land searches may be more effective."

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake triggered last Monday's tsunami, which pummeled a 300km stretch of Java's coastline, destroying houses, restaurants and hotels. The 2m waves tossed boats, cars and motorbikes hundreds of meters inland.

At least 668 people were killed, and the toll has climbed steadily in recent days, with police and army teams hunting for bodies in flattened buildings and remote undergrowth.

Some 74,000 residents have been displaced and 287 people are missing, officials said.

Emergency workers hoped to continue their search today, but it depends on the weather.

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