Indonesian Earthquake Killed 426; Death Toll to Rise (Update1)
The magnitude 8.7 earthquake, among the ten most powerful worldwide since 1900, that struck near the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on March 28 killed at least 426, government officials said. The toll is expected to rise.
At least 326 people were killed on the island of Nias, Simandjuntak, an official at the National Coordinating Body for Disaster Relief, or Bakornas, in Medan said in a phone interview. In Simeulue, an island northwest of Nias, 100 died, MetroTV said yesterday, citing an official in Aceh province.
``The death toll will rise because hundreds of bodies are still buried under the destroyed buildings,'' Simandjuntak, who goes by one name, said. ``We also haven't been able to establish contact with the other islands, Simeulue and Banyak.''
Excavators are being sent to Nias to dig bodies from under the debris, he said. The epicenter of the quake was near that of the Dec. 26 9-magnitude earthquake, which generated a tsunami that killed more than 270,000 people in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean. A small tsunami was generated by Monday's quake, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The World Health Organization delivered 580 kilograms of medical supplies to Nias, Masood Hyder, deputy humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations, said in an e-mailed statement today. A French medical team arrived on the island and evacuations to hospitals in Sumatra started, the statement said.
As many as 500 tents are on their way from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, and a logistical hub was established at Sibolga, a town in Sumatra near Nias. The United Nations will send assessment teams to the areas affected, it said.
In Simeulue, ``structures most affected were those built from concrete and bricks and wooden buildings largely survived,'' the United Nations said in the statement.
In Nias, many injured and dead were in the main city of Gunungsitoli. Most injuries are broken bones and wounds inflicted by falling masonry, it said.