Earthquake measuring 8.7 hits Sumatra coast
A powerful earthquake measuring 8.7 on the richter scale that struck off Indonesia’s western coast has killed about 2000 people on Nias island, the local government said today.
About 70% of the houses and buildings in the market area in the town of Gunungsitoli collapsed from the quake that struck late yesterday.
Nias, a renowned surfing spot, was also badly hit by the December 26 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that killed at least 174,000 people in 11 Indian Ocean nations.
In that quake, at least 340 Nias residents perished and 10,000 were left homeless.
Indonesian officials said the epicenter of the quake was located 90 kilometres south of the island of Simeulue, off Sumatra's western coast, and just north of Nias.
Thailand, which was badly hit by the disaster in December, has issued tsunami warnings.
Thousands of people in the six provinces affected by the December 26 tsunami seem to have moved to higher ground or 2 kilometers inland.
However, scientists say that 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.
CNBC-TV 18 spoke with Home Minister Shivraj Patil earlier and he said that all the forces have been alerted. Patil said, “We have alerted the Chief Minister, the governor, the Navy, the Airforce, the Para-Millitary Force, Collectors, the SPs and we have asked them to see that there are no people living or walking on the beaches at this point of time. One doesn't know whether this earthquake will turn into a tsunami or not. If it turns and it is directed towards India then the coastal people should be cautioned and they should be asked to leave the places where they can be affected.”