Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Collapse fears amid Papua quakes


Many buildings were destroyed in the quake

Thousands of people are refusing to return to their homes in the remote Indonesian region of West Papua following a series of earthquakes.

They fear more buildings could collapse as aftershocks shake the area.

An aid official in the region's main town, Manokwari, said aid teams had yet to reach some of the worst-hit areas.

At least one person died and nearly 50 were badly injured in the quakes, which began on Sunday, and the strongest of which reached a magnitude of 7.6.

They prompted authorities to issue a tsunami alert, but it was withdrawn within an hour.

Tsunami fears

Residents walk past a hotel damaged by earthquakes in Manokwari, Indonesia's Papua province on Sunday
There are fears more buildings could collapse in the coming days
Aid workers in Manokwari say thousands of people have either moved to government camps or are simply sleeping in the streets outside their homes.

An aid official said almost 500 buildings in Manokwari had been heavily damaged, and there are fears more will collapse, reports the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Jakarta.

Several bridges have been damaged or collapsed, and power lines are down.

Our correspondent says there are also fears that the quakes could trigger a tsunami - although as the quakes get smaller, the likelihood of one happening has decreased.

Toll revised

A 10-year-old girl was killed in her home when a wall collapsed, the news agency Associated Press quoted hospital director Hengky Tewu as saying. "Her head was crushed," he said.

Map of Indonesia
But officials revised down initial reports that four people had been killed in the quakes after it was discovered that three had died of illnesses, AP said.

A UN employee in Manokwari said the local government was running out of tents and would soon need food, water and medicine.

However, the local airport has now reopened and the government in Jakarta has said it is sending several tonnes of food and medicine, as well surgeons and other medical staff.

But other aid officials warn that some of the worst-hit areas have yet to be reached.

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