Powerful earthquake strikes Indonesia's Papua, kills five

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A series of powerful arthquakes on Sunday morning rattled the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua, cutting off power lines, killing at least five people and injuring dozens of others, officials said.
The quake hit at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres at 4:43 am (1943 GMT Saturday), about 135 kilometres north-west of Manokwari, the provincial capital of West Papua, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency was quoted by DPA as saying.

A series of aftershocks sparked panic among residents and deterring them from returning to their homes.

An aftershock measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre on land about 76 kilometres north-west of Manokwari, struck about two hours later but triggered no tsunami, the agency said.

Thousands of residents including children and the elderly could be seen thronging the roads of the blacked-out Manokwari town, and they remained outdoors even after the tsunami warning was lifted, local police officials said.

Two three-story hotels, the Mutiara and Kalidingin, collapsed following the second quake, officials said.

"A number of buildings, including three hotels, a warehouse building, were collapsed after the quakes. So far, at least five people were killed," said Panji, from the National Disaster Coordinating Agency.

Dozens of military and police personnel were called up for rescue operations, said Panji, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

An official at Manokwari general hospital confirmed that at least 26 others people were injured, two of them in intensive care, adding that two people were still trapped under the rubble after Mutiara Hotel collapsed while three others were pulled alive from the rubble

A number of damaged buildings and homes were reported in Sorong district town but no reports of casualties.

The series of earthquakes also forced authorities to temporary shut down of Manokwari's Rendai Airport for security and safety concerns.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," the edge of a tectonic plate prone to seismic upheaval.

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck in December 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia's Aceh province and around 500,000 homeless. (*)