Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 17:47 UK

Dozens dead in Indonesian quake


Aftermath of the earthquake in Sumatra was aired on Indonesia TV

At least 75 people are dead and thousands are trapped under rubble after a strong earthquake shook western Indonesia, officials say.

Buildings, including at least two hospitals, were brought down by the 7.6 magnitude quake, centred about 50km (30 miles) off the coast of Sumatra.

Officials say the death toll is expected to rise.

It comes hours after a tsunami from a separate quake killed more than 100 people in the South Pacific.

A tsunami watch issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in the wake of the Indonesian quake has been lifted.

Aid 'on the way'

The coastal city of Padang, capital of West Sumatra province, is among the areas hardest hit.

Karishma Vaswani
Karishma Vaswani, BBC News, Jakarta

We've heard that some of the roads to these areas have been cut off and there are concerns about communications - phone lines and electricity have also been cut off.

Indonesia is no stranger to disasters of this sort - the ability to reach people is often criticised and one of the hospitals nearest the epicentre has also collapsed, so there are real concerns about how to get to the places most affected.

At least six disaster management teams are on their way to the city of Padang. We've been told it will take up to 10 hours to get to the areas most affected.

Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said the death toll was likely to continue to rise sharply, as so many buildings including schools, shops and hotels had collapsed.

"We don't know the identity of the victims yet, it's night-time now so it's dark. People are trapped, hotels have collapsed, schools have collapsed, houses have collapsed and electricity has been cut off," he said, quoted by AFP news agency.

Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari said the quake was one of the biggest in Indonesia in recent years.

"This is a high-scale disaster, more powerful than the earthquake in Yogyakarta in 2006 when more than 3,000 people died," he said.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the health ministry's crisis centre, said a major city hospital was among the collapsed buildings.

At least six rescue teams were on their way to Padang from neighbouring provinces, he said, but would not arrive for at least 10 hours.

Local media reported the roof of the city's airport had also collapsed.

Mukhlis Rahman, mayor of the Pariaman District, one of the worst hit areas, said the weather was hindering efforts to clear up after the disaster.

''The quake was followed by a very heavy rain. Many houses and some building are flattened in my area. But I cannot yet verify too much. We will try to compile the data and distribute aid once the rain subsides,'' he told the BBC.

'Extreme panic'

Map of earthquake off the coast of Sumatra
26 Dec 2004: Asian tsunami kills 170,000 in Indonesia alone
28 March 2005: About 1,300 killed after a magnitude 8.7 quake hits the coast of Sumatra
27 May 2006: Quake hits ancient city of Yogyakarta, killing 5,000
17 July 2006: A tsunami after a 7.7 magnitude quake in West Java province kills 550 people

Witnesses said residents ran out of buildings in Padang - which has a population of 900,000 - and surrounding cities.

"A number of hotels in Padang have been destroyed," Rahmat Triyono, from the Indonesian geophysics and meteorology agency, told AFP news agency.

"Up to now we haven't been able to reach Padang, communications have been cut," Mr Triyono added.

An unnamed witness told Reuters there was "extreme panic" in the city, with bridges down and flooding caused by broken water pipes.

The earthquake struck at 1716 local time (1016 GMT) some 85km under the sea, north-west of Padang, the US Geological Survey said.

Reports said the shaking could be felt in high buildings in the capital, Jakarta, and was also felt in Singapore and Malaysia.

The quake was along the same fault line that spawned the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

That much more powerful earthquake struck roughly 600km north-west of Padang.

Geologists have long warned that Padang could one day be completely destroyed by an earthquake because of its location.

Western Sumatra is a mainly rural area with dense tropical forest.

It has several national parks and many of its beaches are popular with surfers.

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