Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Thursday, 13 September 2007 16:28 UK

Rescuers assess quake-hit Sumatra

Rescuers carry an injured man on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Bengkulu, Sumatra
There are fears some people may be still trapped in the rubble

Relief teams are assessing the damage on Indonesia's island of Sumatra which was hit by two massive earthquakes.

At least nine people are known to have been killed and some 40 injured in the undersea tremors and a series of aftershocks on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tsunami warnings were repeatedly issued and lifted, as many people ran inland fearing a repeat of the 2004 tsunami.

Many buildings collapsed and there were power cuts, but destruction was not as bad as initially feared, officials say.

Wednesday's magnitude-8.4 earthquake - the world's strongest so far this year - struck at 1810 (1110 GMT), about 30km (18 miles) under the sea, 130km (80 miles) south-west of the city of Bengkulu, the US Geological Survey said.

Later, a 7.8-magnitude quake struck about 185km (115 miles) south-east of the city of Padang.

And Indonesia issued - and lifted - another tsunami warning following a third but smaller quake off the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi on Thursday.

Relief teams - carrying food and medicine - began arriving in the quake-hit area of Sumatra some 24 hours after the first tremor.

You could see the road as if it was waving, people could hardly walk so they just lay flat on the road
Zulkifli Lubis
Bengkulu journalist

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also ordered the army and police to assist.

Rescuers are now assessing the damage and helping the injured, although the destruction appears to be not as bad as feared earlier.

"Our initial assessment is that the government will be able to cope," UN Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Several international aid agencies have already pledged thousands of dollars in emergency aid.

Tsunami panic

Hundreds of buildings were damaged in the tremors, and there are fears some people may be still trapped in the rubble.

In one village, 85% of about 1,000 houses were damaged, some badly, the BBC's Lucy Williamson in the area reports.

But no-one appears to have been killed in the village, our correspondent says.

Wednesday's quake sparked warnings across the Indian Ocean, but only a small wave surge of about 1m (3ft) hit Sumatra, causing little damage.

Earthquake graphic

But about two hours after the quake, Indonesia's meteorology agency said the danger of a serious tsunami had passed. India and Sri Lanka also called off tsunami warnings.

Thousands of people were reported to have spent the night sleeping in the open air in the areas of Bengkulu and Padang after the previous quake left them terrified.

Wednesday's earthquake was one of the most powerful in Indonesia since the tremor that caused the Asian tsunami in 2004.

That measured 8.9 and struck under the sea near the northern Sumatran province of Aceh, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people around the rim of the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia, part of the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire", is frequently shaken by earth tremors.

New map
Two earthquakes in same area, south-east of Padang, Sumatra
First earthquake at 1810 (1110 GMT) on Wednesday, magnitude 8.4
Second earthquake at 0649 on Thursday (2349 GMT on Wednesday), magnitude 7.8
Third earthquake of magnitude 6.4 at 1748 (0948 GMT) on Thursday, off northern Sulawesi

video and audio news
The aftermath of the second earthquake

Eyewitnesses: Sumatra earthquake
12 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
How earthquakes happen
01 Jun 09 |  Science & Environment
Deadly history of earthquakes
16 Aug 07 |  Special Reports
Deadly earthquake hits Indonesia
06 Mar 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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