Indonesia earthquake damages buildings
MAR. 28 2:22 P.M. ET A major earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Island late Monday, damaging hundreds of buildings and sending residents fleeing in panic. Officials issued a tsunami warning for as far away as Sri Lanka.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor, which occurred at 11:09 p.m. local time (11:09 a.m. EST), measured a magnitude of 8.2. A later reading put the magnitude at 8.7, said Paul Earle, a USGS research geophysicist.
Hundreds of buildings were badly damaged on Nias island, off the Sumatran coast, close to the epicenter of the earthquake. Dozens of people may be buried in the rubble, said Agus Mendrofa, deputy district head on the island. if (!window.adOb) document.write(''"Hundreds of buildings have been damaged or have collapsed. People who were standing fell over," Mendrofa said. "We're not sure about casualties, but there may be dozens of people buried in the rubble."
Nias, a renowned surfing spot, was badly hit by the Dec. 26 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed at least 175,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations. At least 340 residents of Nias perished and 10,000 were left homeless.
Indonesian officials said the quake's epicenter was 56 miles south of the island of Simeulu, off of Sumatra's western coast, and just north of Nias.
It was described by one of the agency's geologists as an aftershock of the devastating Dec. 26 quake.
In Banda Aceh, the Sumatran city that was hit hardest by December's tsunami, the quake cut electricity and thousands poured into the streets, most getting into vehicles to flee low-lying areas.
Tsunami warnings were issued in Thailand, Japan and Sri Lanka. Authorities said it could take several hours to know whether the quake had generated a devastating tsunami.
The West Coast-Alaska tsunami warning center said that if no tsunami waves are observed in the region near the epicenter within three hours, then it is likely that the danger has passed.
"It seems this earthquake did not trigger a tsunami. If it had, the tsunami would have hit the coastline of Sumatra by now," said Prihar Yadi, a scientist with the Indonesia Geophysics Agency. "And if there's no tsunami on the coastline near the epicenter of the quake, there will not be one heading in the other direction."
The energy from the quake was generated in a southerly direction, said Eddie Bernard, a tsunami expert and director of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, in an interview with CNN. That direction is away from area struck on Dec. 26.
Sirens blared along Sri Lanka's devastated east coast as the government warned seaside residents to evacuate immediately.
"The government has ordered coastal areas to move to higher ground. We are giving priorities to eastern coast," said Brig. Daya Ratnayake, the military spokesman.
Low-lying coastal areas in Malaysia's northern states also were being evacuated.
In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. diplomatic missions in Asia and Africa are in "battle mode" so that they can respond quickly to any contingency.
He said embassy officials in the area have been asking host governments to inquire about any causalities to permit an early U.S. response if the situation calls for it.
The International Red Cross in Geneva said all their mobile phone systems were down so they haven't been able to talk to anyone on the ground in Indonesia.
At the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which was at the center of U.N. response to the Dec. 26 tsunami, Jamie McGoldrick said, "What's going on is a mobilization of people away from the coast."
But noted that the quake was "a weaker one than before (Dec. 26)."
"There have been no reports of a tsunami and no initial reports of damage, but it's very early," said Rob Holden, a Geneva-based technical coordinator for the World Health Organization. "Police are now going around trying to calm people down."
Oceanographer David Burwell of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said the agency was watching water levels "but we don't have any gauges in that area." He said it would be a few hours before officials received any readings.
The quake lasted about two minutes and felt like gentle swaying, like a rocking chair, causing people to feel dizzy and briefly knocking the electricity out in Banda Aceh. It woke people up and sent them running into the street.
People grabbed small bags of clothes -- in many cases likely all the belongings they had left after the disaster -- as they fled their tents and homes. Many were crying and jumping into cars and onto motorbikes and pedicabs, saying they were heading for higher ground.
Two women wearing prayer shawls and sarongs grasped a fence and chanted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."
"People are still traumatized, still scared, they are running for higher ground," said Feri, a 24-year-old recovery volunteer who goes by one name.
"It was felt in most of the cities in Sumatra," said Budi Waluyo, an agency official. Indonesia's state news agency, Antara, said there were no immediate reports of damage.
The quake was felt as far away as Malaysia, about 300 miles from the epicenter, sending panicked residents fleeing their apartments and hotels in Kuala Lumpur and Penang after authorities activated fire alarms.
Officials issued a tsunami warning for residents of southern Thai provinces, three months after a tsunami devastated parts of Indonesia and other countries in the region.
The quake occurred at a depth of 18.6 miles, and was centered 125 west-northwest of Sibolga, Sumatra, and 150 miles southwest of Medan, Sumatra, the USGS said.
The depth does not mean a lot for a quake this large, Earle said, calling it a near-surface earthquake and comparable to the one that occurred Dec. 26.
After the Dec. 26 quake, the agency initially recorded the depth of that temblor at six miles. Shallow earthquakes like that generally are more destructive because the seismic energy is closer to the surface and has less distance to travel.
Monday's quake was considered to be at a moderate depth.
Japan's Meteorological Agency said the quake registered 8.5.
Tremors also were felt throughout peninsular Malaysia's west coast, causing thousands of residents to flee high-rise apartment buildings and hotels. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or major damage.
"I was getting ready for bed, and suddenly, the room started shaking," said Kuala Lumpur resident Jessie Chong. "I thought I was hallucinating at first, but then I heard my neighbors screaming and running out."
Police were evacuating many residents from low-lying coastal areas in Malaysia's northern states of Penang and Kedah as a precaution, said Penang Police Chief Christopher Wan.
"We are on the alert for the possibility of a tsunami within the next few hours," Wan said by telephone. "We're better prepared now compared to last year."
Sixty-eight Malaysians were killed when the Dec. 26 tsunami hit Penang and Kedah.
Greg Romano, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning system, said the U.S. State Department was passing on warnings to foreign governments about the tsunami danger.
The USGS said the quake occurred on a segment of the same fault line that triggered the magnitude-9 earthquake on Dec. 26, the world's biggest in 40 years.
Dale Grant of U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was magnitude 8.2 and was in the aftershock zone of the Dec. 26 quake.
"It is along the same segment of fault," he said. "We do expect aftershocks. An 8.2 is very large, but it's not unusual as an aftershock."
He stressed they have no reports at this time of any tsunami.
The Dec. 26 quake triggered the huge tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean at the speed of a passenger jet killed more than 174,000 people and left another 106,000 missing.
More than 1.5 million people were left homeless in 11 countries..
Tremors form the quake could be felt in the Thai capital Bangkok for several minutes beginning at about 11:20 p.m.
Chalermchai Aekkantrong, deputy director of Thailand's meteorological department, told a radio station Monday that officials were asking people near the coast to evacuate, although there were no immediate reports of a tsunami.
This just in!
Official: 50 dead on island after quake
'Small' tsunami detected in Indian Ocean after 8.7 temblor
(CNN) -- Fifty people were killed and about 300 homes were destroyed on the island of Nias, near the epicenter of a massive earthquake that struck off the coast of Indonesia on Monday, a government official there told CNN.
About 100 people were injured, and many others were believed buried under rubble, Agus Mendrova said.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 people were running about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) to hilltops for safety in case of a tsunami, he said.
Meanwhile, a tidal gauge has detected a small tsunami in the Indian Ocean several hundred miles southwest of the earthquake.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that an instrument near the Cocos Islands recorded the passing wave, but the magnitude of the "small" tsunami was not clear.
The agency said no major tsunami has been observed near epicenter of the earthquake which was upgraded from a magnitude of 8.2 to 8.7. An aftershock measuring 6.0 struck 30 minutes after the initial quake.
Scientists say the threat of a tsunami striking Indonesia and Thailand may have passed because a wave like the one that hit the region on December 26 would have reached those countries almost immediately. Monday's quake struck at 11:09 a.m. ET (1609 GMT).
Officials in Kuala Lumpur issued an official tsunami warning for the west coast of Malaysia and the east coast of Sumatra. The warning has a six-hour window, and is based on the December earthquake, which struck at 9 a.m. local time and was followed four hours later by the tsunami.
A damaging tsunami is still possible and should be "presumed," said Robert Cessaro of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The quake may have sent its energy further to the south than last year's quake, which measured above 9 and ruptured to the north, he said.
"So all that pressure to the north would have been relieved" by that quake, said Cessaro. "We think this event probably ruptured to the south, with the beam of energy probably propagated to the south toward Mauritius and the Rodrigues."
Residents of coastal regions around the Indian Ocean have been rapidly evacuating after the earthquake .
In Thailand, thousands of people in the six provinces affected by the December 26 tsunami were moving to higher ground or 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) inland, the governor of Phang Nga province said.
Sri Lanka also issued a warning that the earthquake may spawn a tsunami that would reach Sri Lanka's shores by about 3 a.m. Tuesday (4 p.m. ET Monday) and urged those living in low lying areas to move to higher ground.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recommended residents within 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) of the epicenter evacuate coastal regions.
The quake was centered on the same fault line where the December 26 earthquake launched a tsunami that killed at least 175,000 people.
There was a report of heavy damage on Simeulue Island in Indonesia, said Bernd Schell, head of tsunami operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Prass Prawoto, an aid worker in Banda Aceh -- which was severely damaged by the December 26 tsunami and quake -- said Indonesians were moving to higher ground, fearing a repeat of the earlier tsunami. But, he said, he had not heard of any injuries.
CNN producer Kathy Quiano, watching television reports from Jakarta, said there was widespread panic in Banda Aceh, as residents rushed inland. Electricity and phone service were out in major sections of the city.
A number of traffic accidents occurred as a result, and people were injured, she said, citing local television reports. "People are closely watching for the water that may come in," she said.
Charles McCreary, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said scientists believed another tsunami is possible, but he could not be certain if the quake, which was 203 kilometers (126 miles) from Sibolga on Sumatra Island, would cause another deadly wave.
U.S. ready to help
The United States is moving into "battle mode" in the wake of the quake, alerting all the U.S. posts in the region and reaching out to aid workers, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.
"We're applying what we've learned from the previous earthquake, so that we can be prepared to be responsive quickly and in a meaningful way," he said.
USGS spokesman Doug Blake said there had been no reports of tsunami activity nearly 90 minutes after the quake struck.
"At this point in time we don't know what type of fault occurred ... and that is critical information we just don't have yet," he said. "It is in the aftershock zone of the December 26 quake. It's a little bit south, but it's on the same fault."
Experts agreed the quake was massive. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 8.7; the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it was 8.5.
"This earthquake has the potential to generate a widely destructive tsunami in the ocean or seas near the earthquake," NOAA said in a statement on its Web site. "Authorities in those regions should be aware of this possibility and take immediate action."
Asked whether evacuations are taking place, U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Don Blakeman said, "I certainly hope so."
A 'great' quake
The quake is considered a "great" earthquake, the largest of seven grades. The grades are very minor, minor, light, moderate, strong, major and great.
Tsunamis are distinguished from normal coastal surf by their great length and speed. A single wave in a tsunami series might be 160 kilometers (100 miles) long and race across the ocean at 960 kph (600 mph).
When it approaches a coastline, the wave slows dramatically, but it also rises to great heights because the enormous volume of water piles up in shallow coastal bays.
The December 26 quake triggered a massive tsunami that devastated coastlines in nearly a dozen nations in Africa and Asia.
I take what n0e says way too seriously
28th November 2004
hopefully there wont be another tsunami :( those poor people have had enough...
The cream of the crop
19th August 2003
earthquakes are amazing. sad when people die form them though.
46 and 2, are just ahead of me
23rd September 2004
:wtm: two threads??? If someone could merge them that would be great. link:http://forums.filefront.com/showthread.php?t=185400