President sends ministers to deal with Manokwari earthquakes' impacts

Jakarta (ANTARA NEWS) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told the press here on Sunday that he had sent Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto, Transportation Minister Djusman Syafii Djamal and Social Affairs Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah, to Manokwari, West Papua Province, which was hit by a series of earthquakes on Sunday morning.
The three ministers had been instructed to reach the earthquake-hit location and report about the quake`s impacts as soon as possible, President Yudhoyono said on the sidelines of his visit to Ragunan Zoo, south Jakarta.

The transportation minister was sent to Manokwari because the Manokwari airport was reportedly damaged by the earthquake, according to the head of state.

The airport had to be repaired quickly to ensure smooth distribution of relief aid for the temblor`s victims, he said.

Yudhoyono said that he had talked with West Papua Governor Abraham Octavianus on the phone to coordinate emergency efforts to help local residents affected by the earthquakes.

The President said that he had received a report that four residents had been killed and a number of buildings had been seriously damaged in the disaster.

"However, we have to wait until we get complete information. The most important is that the central and regional governments have worked in accordance with the existing procedures for emergency efforts. I continue to monitor the emergency responses being done," the President said.

According to information on the BMG`s website, Papua Island, the eastern most Indonesian island, was jolted by at least 25 temblors with magnitudes ranging from 5.0 to 7.6 on the Richter scale, on Sunday morning.

The earthquakes affected Manokwari and Sorong (West Papua Province), and Biak (Papua Province).

The epicenter of the 7.6-magnitude earthquake was located at 0.88 degrees southern latitude and 133.38 degrees eastern longitude, 76 km southwest of Manokwari, at a depth of 10 km below sea level.

The temblor was felt at the II -III MMI in Sorong, and IV-V MMI in Manokwari.

Hundreds of West Papua`s residents living along coastal areas, evacuated themselves to higher ground in fear of a tsunami, which did not occurred. (*)