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Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 21:31 UK

Deadly earthquake hits Indonesia

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Workers leave an office building in Jakarta after the quake

A powerful earthquake has struck off the Indonesian island of Java, killing 44 people, officials say.

More than 300 have been injured and it is feared the death toll will rise as many homes have reportedly been buried by a landslide triggered by the quake.

More than 700 houses were badly damaged by the magnitude 7.0 quake, a social affairs ministry official told AP.

The quake struck around 1500 (0800 GMT). Its epicentre was offshore, 115km (70 miles) south-west of Tasikmalaya.

Medical teams have been dispatched to the city, where damaged properties included the mayor's home and a mosque.

The tremors were felt in the capital, Jakarta, 200km to the north, where hundreds fled into the streets from offices and shops.

A local tsunami alert was issued but revoked shortly afterwards.

Swaying and shaking

One badly hit area was the district of Cianjur, about 100km south of Jakarta, where a landslide has left 40 people missing, feared dead.

Building damaged in Java quake

Others were killed when buildings collapsed in Tasikmalaya and in the town of Sukabumi.

One villager near Tasikmalaya told Reuters news agency: "Many houses are flattened... Only the wooden houses remain standing. Many villagers are injured, covered in blood."

Priyadi Kardono, from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, told Reuters the death toll could rise as communication with many more remote areas had not been re-established.

"Communications with the coastal areas were completely cut... No reports have come from those areas, although we assume those were the most affected ones."

Rescue teams in many areas of West Java were said to be clearing away rubble to try to find survivors, local media said.

In Jakarta, one eyewitness, who gave his name as Jonathan, told the BBC News website he was on the 28th floor of an office block when the quake struck.

Java map

"I went into the meeting room and took shelter under the table," he said. "It went on for about a minute I think - scary.

"It was like being in a boat on rough water, the building swaying from side to side. The doors were flapping, books fell off piles," he said.

At least 27 people were injured in the capital, officials said.

The quake was also felt 500km away from its epicentre in Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, and on the resort island of Bali.

Seismologists recorded a slight rise in the sea level at Pelabuhan Ratu off the west of the island following the quake, indicating there had been a small tsunami.

In December 2004, an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people around Asia.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, one of the most active areas for earthquakes and volcanic activity in the world.



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