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Page last updated at 05:12 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 06:12 UK

New quake hits stricken Sumatra

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The aftermath of the first quake was shown on Indonesian television

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 has hit Sumatra, a day after another powerful quake devastated parts of the Indonesian island.

Officials now say at least 200 bodies have been found from the earlier 7.6 magnitude quake, which triggered landslides and cut power lines.

Hundreds of buildings, including hospitals, collapsed in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province.

Rescue workers said the number of dead is expected to rise significantly.

"Our prediction is that thousands have died," said Rustam Pakaya, head of the health ministry's disaster centre in Jakarta.

Heavy machinery

The first earthquake struck at 1716 local time (1016 GMT) on Wednesday, some 85km (55 miles) under the sea, north-west of Padang, the US Geological Survey said.

The second quake was on land and struck at 0852 local time (0152 GMT) on Thursday, about 225km south-east of Padang at a depth of about 25km.

Earthquake victims receive medical treatment

There were no immediate reports of damage from the second quake.

Rescuers have been struggling in heavy rain to try to find survivors from the first quake who are buried under rubble in Padang.

A doctor working in the city told the BBC: "There's quite a few people that have died. At first I was thinking it was going to be in the hundreds but it's going to be in the thousands of people that have been crushed or trapped."

One resident of Padang, Siti, told Reuters news agency: "We need aid as soon as possible. We need food and medicine. Our houses have collapsed."

Earlier Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Agency, said more than 500 houses and buildings had collapsed.

"Many people are staying outdoors and some people are staying in public facilities," he told Reuters.

Mr Kardono said about 150 military personnel, as well as police and health ministry workers, were in the affected area, but they urgently needed heavy machinery to lift the rubble.

The quake brought down telephone lines, severely affecting communications with the region and making it difficult to assess the scale of the damage.

Speaking on Wednesday, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said a coordinated relief effort was underway.

He said military planes were flying medical equipment and personnel to the affected region.

Burning buildings

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

MAJOR INDONESIAN QUAKES
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

Jane Liddon, an Australian businesswoman in Padang, told Australian radio many large buildings in the town had been severely damaged.

"The concrete buildings are all down, the hospitals, the main markets, down and burned," she said.

"A lot of people died in there. A lot of places are burning."

But Ms Liddon said many smaller residential properties had escaped the damage.

Australia has offered to send emergency assistance to Indonesia if needed.

"They are very close friends and neighbours. They know that we are here and available to help. They just have to ask," said Aid Minister Bob McMullan.

Indonesian officials have said the quake was one of the biggest in Indonesia in recent years and could have been more powerful than the 2006 Yogyakarta quake that killed more then 5,000 people.

Wednesday's 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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