Powerful quake destroys buildings in Indonesia

JAKARTA (AFP) – A powerful 7.9-magnitude quake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island Wednesday, destroying large buildings and starting fires in the major city of Padang, geologists and reports said.

“A number of hotels in Padang have been destroyed,” Indonesian geophysics and meteorology agency tsunami warning head Rahmat Triyono said, adding the agency did not release a tsunami alert.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii however issued a tsunami watch for Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Thailand but later cancelled it.

“Up to now we haven’t been able to reach Padang, communications have been cut,” Triyono said.

The quake struck at sea at 5:16 pm (1016 GMT) at a fairly deep 87 kilometres (54 miles), 53 kilometres northwest of Padang city in West Sumatra province, the United States Geological Survey said.

Local news channel Metro TV reported fires amid hundreds of collapsed houses in Padang, a city of 900,000, where panicked residents had run onto the streets as the quake hit.

“We haven’t received any reports of casualties yet because communication lines in the areas close to the epicentre like Pariaman and Padang have completely broken down,” Indonesian geophysics agency head technical head Suharjono told AFP.

“Several hotels in Padang such as the Minang Hotel have also collapsed but all this needs to be confirmed,” he said.

The quake was felt in the capital Jakarta 940 kilometres away and sent panicked office workers streaming out of buildings in nearby Singapore and the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

“The shaking was the worst I had ever felt,” Yuliarni, a resident of Pariaman district outside of Padang, told TVOne news channel.

“Houses have collapsed, the lights and electricity were cut off… People were fleeing to higher ground and some were hurt,” she said.

The quake caused a landslide that destroyed houses at lake Maninjau inland from Padang, local resident Hafiz told the channel.

TVOne reported Padang’s airport had been closed in the wake of the quake.

from : http://au.news.yahoo.com/

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