More quakes hit Indonesia
Indonesia's Sumatra island was hit by a series of aftershocks yesterday after a powerful earthquake toppled hundreds of buildings, killing at least 10 people and burying many others.
A seismologist said the region was lucky to have escaped a tsunami similar to the one triggered by the more than 9 magnitude quake in 2004 that killed over 280,000 people.
But the threat remained. Indonesia's meteorology agency issued the latest in a series of tsunami warnings late yesterday after another strong earthquake struck Sumatra.
The damage from the initial quake was "relatively less" than feared, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters yesterday.
"However, we still have to do a thorough assessment. People are better at responding to disasters than in previous years."
Wednesday's 8.4 magnitude quake - which took place on the eve of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and was felt in neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand - cut communications and sparked panic in the hours that followed.
That quake and more than 20 further tremors ranging in intensity from 4.9 to 7.8 repeatedly set off tsunami warnings in Indian Ocean countries. However, there were no reports of major ocean surges hitting coastlines.
The roads in north Bengkulu were lined with tents as residents feared more quakes and did not want to return to their damaged homes. People huddled by fires outdoors to keep warm in the drizzling rain.
In Bengkulu, nearly 800 houses collapsed and many more were damaged, but the full extent of the quake was still unknown because of the difficulty of reaching or contacting some areas.
The mayor of Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, told Reuters many people were trapped under collapsed buildings.