Panic as quakes hit Papua

Panic as quakes hit Papua
ABC News, 16 June 2010

The Indonesian province of Papua has been rocked by four earthquakes, killing two people and triggering panic as residents fled their homes.

The first, a magnitude 6.2, struck about 1:10pm AEST on the small island of Biak.

It was followed quickly by three more quakes in the same area; the largest was recorded at magnitude 7.1.

Police say initial reports suggest two people were crushed when their houses collapsed, as the quake shook Yapen island off northern Papua province.
A tsunami warning was initially issued, but has

now been lifted (ABC News)

 

Yapen Island, with a population of about 70,000 people, appeared to be the worst-hit area with one church destroyed and at least 150 homes damaged.

Thousands of people fled their homes and workplaces on nearby Biak island and in the West Papua provincial capital of Manokwari about 300 kilometres to the west.

"I was driving my car to the office... I felt a huge tremor for about one or two minutes," Biak resident Osibyo Wakum said.

"The car was being flung around."

He said people rushed out of homes and buildings as the quake rocked the island around lunchtime.

In Manokwari, people fled to open spaces as buildings swayed and the earth shook.

"There was a swaying movement for about 40 seconds. People ran out of their homes, shouting 'get out, get out, the earth is shaking'," said an agency reporter in the town.

Many people remained outside as a series of powerful aftershocks shook the region, some as strong as 6.6 in magnitude.

 

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Quakes kill three in Indonesia

, 16 June 2010

 

MANOKWARI, Indonesia (AFP) – Three people were killed and hundreds of homes damaged Wednesday when a series of strong earthquakes hit eastern Indonesia, triggering a tsunami warning and widespread panic.

Two victims were crushed when their homes collapsed on Yapen island, close to the epicentre of the most powerful 7.1-magnitude quake off the northern coast of Papua province, police said.

The quake struck off the southeast coast of Yapen at 12:16 pm (0316 GMT), officials said. It was the second of a series of strong quakes felt across a vast but sparsely populated area including Biak island.

Another person was killed when a 5.3-magnitude quake rattled West Sulawesi province, the Antara news agency reported.

Indonesia's Geophysics and Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for waters off northern Papua but it was lifted an hour later.

As night fell on remote Yapen, many residents of the main town of Serui were huddled around candles outside their homes, fearing aftershocks.

"I think many people in Serui are still afraid to go back inside their houses. Now the electricity is off, so we're using candles and lanterns outdoors," said resident Tony Theozon, 48.

About 500 homes, a church, a power station and government buildings were destroyed or damaged on Yapen, which has a population of about 70,000, police and officials said.

Biak resident Osibyo Wakum said he was driving to work when the quake struck.

"I felt a huge tremor for about one or two minutes. The car was being flung around," he said.

He said people rushed out of homes and buildings as the quake rocked the reef-fringed tropical island around lunchtime.

Thousands of people also fled their homes and workplaces in the West Papua provincial capital of Manokwari about 300 kilometres (180 miles) to the northwest of the epicentre.

"There was a swaying movement for about 40 seconds. People ran out of their homes, shouting 'get out, get out, the earth is shaking'," said an AFP correspondent in Manokwari.

Many people remained outside as a series of powerful aftershocks, the strongest with a magnitude of 6.6, shook the region.

Antara reported that the man killed on Sulawesi island was working in a sand mine when the earlier quake struck. About 50 houses were destroyed and a landslide injured several people, local officials said.

The vast Indonesian archipelago stretches from the Pacific to the Indian oceans and straddles major seismic faultlines that trigger thousands of quakes a year.

The 2004 Asian tsunami killed at least 168,000 people in Indonesia alone when the sea surged over the northern tip of Sumatra island after a 9.3-magnitude quake split the seabed to the west.

A 7.6-magnitude quake killed about 1,000 people in the port of Padang, western Sumatra, in September last year.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit northern Sumatra in April but caused no significant damage.

Scientists cannot predict when the next major earthquake will hit Indonesia but they say it is only a matter of time before another catastrophe on the same or even greater scale as 2004 strikes the archipelago again.