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BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
A whole village was swept away in the tidal waves
 real 28k

Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Quake kills 16 in Indonesia
map
The earthquake set off a giant tidal wave
An earthquake has rocked areas of central Indonesia killing at least 16 people and sparking off a tidal wave.

Hundreds of homes have been destroyed.

Reports say the quake, which measured 6.5 on the Richter scale, struck at 1121 (0421 GMT). The epicentre was beneath the Maluku Sea, about 105km (65 miles) off Peleng island.

Peleng is off the eastern coast of Sulawesi island.

Earlier, Banggai islands district head Ali Hamid said at least eight people were also seriously injured and were being treated.

Damage from the quake and tsunami tidal wave was extensive, reports and officials said, flattening whole seaside villages along the eastern tip of Sulawesi which were still being hit by aftershocks.

Several small islands are also reported to have been completely submerged.

Suyitno, head of the local geophysics agency in Luwuk, a town on the east coast of Sulawesi, said the tremor had set off a fire in a shopping centre.

"All the people poured into the streets in panic," he said.

Tidal wave

The tsunami tidal wave that followed caused much of the damage.

"We don't know exactly the level of destruction ... but, according to reports sent by local police offices, 50 per cent of existing buildings were destroyed," Banggai police chief Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Rainur told the official news agency Antara.

"We are still monitoring the situation, because of indications that the quake caused a crack on the seabed around the port," said Banggai islands district head Ali Hamid.

Rahmatiyah, the wife of Banggai's mayor, said she had explored the island and found virtually all buildings levelled.

"Eighty percent, from what I saw when I explored the island with my husband, was destroyed," she said.

Temporary shelters are being set up.

The tsunami hit smaller islets surrounding Banggai but rescue teams could not reach the isolated areas.

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See also:

30 Nov 98 | Asia-Pacific
Killer waves so hard to detect
30 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
The Earth's Ring of Fire
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