Quake kills two in Indonesia

A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed at least two people and damaged homes in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday.

Last Updated: Jun 16, 2010, 16:38 PM IST

Manokwari: A powerful 7.1-magnitude
earthquake killed at least two people and damaged scores of
homes in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami warning and widespread panic.

The victims were believed to have been crushed under
their collapsed homes on Yapen island, close to the epicentre
off the northern coast of Papua province, police said.

"Two people were killed on the island because of the
quake. We`re still collecting information about the damage,"
Yapen police chief Deny Siregar said.

The quake struck off the southeast coast of Yapen at
12:16 pm (local time), officials said. It was the second of a
series of strong tremors that were felt across a vast but
sparsely populated region.

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, police said.

"The situation now is still tense. We have moved people
to higher ground in anticipation of a tsunami," Siregar said by phone from Serui town on Yapen.

Indonesia`s Geophysics and Meteorological Agency issued a
localised tsunami warning but it was lifted an hour later.

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. The car was being flung
around," Biak resident Osibyo Wakum said.

He said people rushed out of homes and buildings as the
quake rocked the reef-fringed tropical 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 AFP correspondent in the town.

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

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.

PTI