1000 feared dead in Indonesia quake
JAKARTA: Indonesia said on Thursday it expected the death toll from a massive earthquake to climb into the thousands, as rescue workers dug with their bare hands to reach those trapped under rubble.
The first flights laden with food, medicine and body bags began arriving in the devastated region on Sumatra island, even as another powerful quake struck further south, sending residents fleeing their homes in panic.
Wednesday afternoon's 7.6-magnitude quake caused buildings to crumble and fires to rage in Padang city, home to nearly a million people on the coast of Sumatra, which was left largely without power and communications.
The official death toll stands at 467 dead with 105 injured, but those numbers were expected to soar as the full scale of the tragedy unfolds.
"Our prediction is that thousands have died," Health Ministry crisis centre head Rustam Pakaya said.
Rescue teams from the Indonesian army and health ministry descended on the city and surrounding towns to hunt for survivors in the twisted wreckage of collapsed buildings and homes. In pouring rain, overwhelmed police and soldiers were clawing through the tangled remains of schools, hotels and at least one major hospital that buckled in the quake.
In front of one collapsed school, 49-year-old mother Andriana waited in tears as police picked through the rubble for her 14-year-old daughter and dozens of other children believed trapped inside.
"I've been waiting here since yesterday. I haven't been home yet and keep praying to God my daughter is alive," she said, her reddened eyes darting back and forth from the rubble.
Police said that the bodies of eight children had been hauled from the school, a tuition college where they had been taking extra classes, while another nine youngsters had emerged alive.
At the city's main M. Djamil hospital, a constant stream of ambulances ferried the injured to tents erected outside the partially collapsed building.
Relatives could be seen wandering through rows of yellow body bags searching for loved ones.
Authorities said they were suffering from a desperate shortage of heavy machinery, but the military said planes loaded with tents and blankets had been despatched to help the thousands left homeless by the disaster.
"We have sent eight tonnes of medicine, eight tonnes of baby food, 630 body bags, 200 medical specialists and tents," said the health ministry's Pakaya.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, briefing reporters in Tokyo as he returned from the G20 summit in the United States, urged officials to "flood" the city with aid and medical relief.
British-based charity Oxfam said it had earmarked 200,000 pounds (320,000 dollars) for relief efforts, including the distribution of emergency shelters, hygiene kits and clothing.
Charity World Vision, which has dispatched a team to the quake-hit area, said it had set aside 1.0 million dollars to assist victims.
Terrified residents rushed from their homes and ran through the streets as the tremor hit off Sumatra's west coast at 5:16 pm (1016 GMT), 47 kilometres (29 miles) northwest of Padang.
It was felt in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, 940 kilometres (585 miles) away, and sent frightened office workers streaming out of buildings in nearby Singapore and the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
Dozens of aftershocks followed, including the major one on Thursday which the US Geological Survey measured at 6.8 and said struck on land 225 kilometres (140 miles) southeast of Padang.
Indonesian authorities measured the quake at 7.0 magnitude but said there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Indonesian earthquakes followed a massive 8.0-magnitude tremor that spawned a deadly tsunami in the Samoan islands of the South Pacific.
Both disaster zones sit on the volatile "Ring of Fire," an arc of seismic instability around the Pacific rim.
Geologists said Padang was vulnerable to more quakes and tsunamis, and that recent events could even set off three major volcanoes in West Sumatra.
Padang lies on the same tectonic faultline that cracked off Aceh, at the northern tip of Sumatra, in 2004 to trigger the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people.
They should be Beware.. of missionaries... at 2005 when tsunami camed that time to these missionary was busy in converting peoples then helping them... come to our religion then we will supply u with food and medicine SHAME . .same like this ppl involved in orissa when they get nice beaten up by others due to these dirty act..then they cry and bark we r suffering FAKE ppls
`Missionaries are perfect nuisances and leave every place worse than they found it'
— Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
CRUSADER WATCH: ---->
MISSIONARIES PREYING ON TSUNAMI SURVIVORS
More than 150 killed as tsunami hits Samoas
WELLINGTON: More than 120 people were killed when a series of tsunamis triggered by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake swept across the South Pacific, reports from the region said on Wednesday.
At least 100 people were killed in Samoa, the disaster management office of the island state of 220,000 people said. Several tourist resorts and villages were destroyed, it reported.
Another 19 people died in neighbouring American Samoa, while 10 deaths were reported on Tonga's northern island of Niuatoputapu.
New Zealand's 'Stuff news' website quoted witnesses as saying the devastation in Samoa was unimaginable "with bodies, covered in clothes, strewn around coastal villages".
Reports said cars and people, including children torn from the arms of their mothers, were swept out to sea by waves of up to six metres as survivors fled to high ground, where they remained huddled hours later.
New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Bill English told a news conference in Wellington there had been "considerable loss of life" with many more deaths likely to be reported in an unfolding tragedy.
An unknown number of New Zealand and Australian tourists, holidaying in Samoa, were believed to have died, trapped in tourist resorts as the tsunami followed one of the world's biggest earthquakes this year.
The south coast of Samoa's main island Upolu was devastated. "We've had very heavy damage all along the coast and most of the tourist resorts have been wiped out," Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni said.
Up to 20 people were reported killed in the beach resort Lalomanu, which is popular with New Zealand and Australian holidaymakers.
US President Barack Obama declared a "major disaster" in the US territory of American Samoa, freeing up federal funds for disaster relief.
English said a New Zealand air force maritime surveillance plane has been sent to look for survivors swept out to sea and other defence forces put on standby to fly medical aid and emergency shelters to Samoa, a former New Zealand territory.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake, which was located about 204 km southwest of Samoa, at 8.0 on the Richter scale after earlier estimating it at 8.3.
As aftershocks continued to hit the two Samoa states, seismologists reported two more quakes measuring 5.6 and a third of 5.8 in the South Pacific.
The 'Pacific Tsunami Warning Center' lifted its alert to countries across the South Pacific about five hours after the first quake and people in Samoa were reported to be returning to the sites of their homes to inspect the damage and search for the missing.
Civil defence officials in New Zealand, 2,685 km away from the quake's epicentre, issued an alert for the country's entire coastline after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a three-metre tsunami was travelling across the Pacific at about 800 km an hour.
It lifted its warning after nine hours, telling people it was safe to return to the beaches.