More Than 1,000 Feared killed In Indonesian Earthquake
More than 1,000 people are feared killed in a major earthquake which struck off the caostal city of Padang on Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday.
Health ministry crisis centre head Rustam Pakaya told a news agency: "Maybe more than one thousand... because so many buildings and houses have been damaged,"
Earlier Vice President Jusuf Kalla had announced the official confirmed death toll at a news conference as 75, hours after the 7.6-magnitude quake hit off the coast of the town of Padang.
Officials said the quake triggered a landslide that cut off land transport to the area closest to the epicentre. Power and telecommunications were also cut.
The quake, which was along the same fault line that spawned the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, caused widespread panic across the city of 900,000 people, and a hospital in Padang collapsed, said Rustam Pakaya, the head of the health ministry's disaster centre in Jakarta.
TV footage showed devastation, with piles of rubble and smashed houses. Metro Television reported the roof of Padang airport had collapsed and other media said hotels were damaged.
The quake was felt around the region, with some high-rise buildings in Singapore, 275 miles to the northeast, evacuating staff. Office buildings also shook in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre cancelled an earlier 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 resident in the city, who also said broken water pipes had triggered flooding.
His mobile phone was then cut off and officials said power had been severed in the city. A resident called Adi later told Indonesia's Metro Television there was devastation around him.
"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. They fear a tsunami," said Adi.
"No help has arrived yet. I can see small children standing around carrying blankets. Some people are looking for relatives but all the lights have gone out completely."
Online news agency Detik.com said a hospital and a large market had also been damaged in the city.
Sumatra is home to some of the country's largest oil fields as well as its oldest and smallest liquefied natural gas terminal, although there were no immediate reports of damage to those facilities.
Padang, the capital of Indonesia's West Sumatra province, sits on one of the world's most active fault lines along the "Ring of Fire" where the Indo-Australia plate grinds against the Eurasia plate to create regular tremors and sometimes quakes.
A 9.15 magnitude quake, with its epicentre roughly 373 miles northwest of Padang, caused the 2004 tsunami which killed 232,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh province, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and other countries across the Indian Ocean.
The depth of Wednesday's earthquake was 53 miles, the United States Geological Survey said. It revised down the magnitude of the quake from 7.9 to 7.6.
A series of tsunamis earlier on Wednesday smashed into the Pacific island nations of American and Western Samoa, and Tonga killing possibly more than 100 people, some washed out to sea, destroying villages and injuring hundreds.
Geologists have long said Padang may one day be destroyed by a huge earthquake because of its location.
"Padang sits right in front of the area with the greatest potential for an 8.9 magnitude earthquake," said Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist at the Indonesian Science Institute, in February.
"The entire city could drown" in a tsunami triggered by such a quake, he warned.
Several earthquake-prone parts of the country hold tsunami practice drills, and the national disaster service sends alerts via telephone text messages to subscribers.
But some experts have long said Indonesia needs to do more to reduce the risk of catastrophe.