1 Oct :A second powerful earthquake rocked western Indonesia as rescuers struggled to reach survivors of Wednesday’s temblor, which killed at least 467 people and left thousands trapped under collapsed buildings.
The death toll from yesterday’s undersea quake of 7.6 magnitude was expected to rise further after rescuers dig through the rubble in heavily populated towns of Sumatra island.
The second, 6.8-magnitude quake damaged additional buildings on Thursday.
“This is a high-scale disaster,” Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari told a TV channel.
Padang, a coastal city of 900,000 and capital of West Sumatra province, became the immediate focus of relief workers.
At least 500 buildings in Padang collapsed or were badly damaged in the Wednesday evening quake, which also set off fires, said Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono.
A total of 467 people were confirmed dead and 421 seriously injured, said Tugiyo Bisri of the Social Affairs Ministry’s crisis centre. He said 376 deaths occurred in Padang, with rest of the deaths in four surrounding districts.
At least 80 people were missing at the 5-story Ambacang hotel in downtown Padang, said Indra, a paramedic who uses only one name.
Rescuers, working in heavy rain, found two survivors and nine bodies in the hotel’s rubble.
Terrified residents who spent a restless night were jolted by the fresh tremor on Thursday morning.
The US Geological Survey said the inland quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 hit about 240 kilometres south of Padang at a depth of just under 24 kilometres.
The second quake reportedly damaged 30 houses in Jambi, another Sumatran town. It was not yet clear if there were injuries, said Jambi Mayor Hasfiah, who uses only one name, like many Indonesians.
Collapsed or seriously damaged buildings in Padang included hospitals, mosques, a school and a mall.
A television network footage showed heavy equipment breaking through layers of cement in search of more than 30 students it said were missing from the school where they were taking after-school classes.
Parents of missing students stayed up all night, waiting for signs of life under the rubble.
“My daughter’s face keeps appearing in my eyes … my mind. I cannot sleep, I’m waiting here to see her again,” a woman, who identified herself only as Imelda, said, tears rolling down her face. She said her 12-year-old daughter Yolanda was in school to take science lessons.