JAKARTA: A powerful earthquake rocked Indonesia's eastern province of Papua yesterday, killing at least 23 people in a coastal town and possibly more in other areas, officials said.
Many people were injured in the early morning quake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and destroyed several buildings in Nabire, the officials said.
The national earthquake centre put the epicentre just 7km from Nabire, where power to the town's 26,000 residents had yet to be restored as night fell.
The quake closed Nabire's airport and many buildings were destroyed or set ablaze. Residents fearing aftershocks said they had set up tents near their homes to sleep in.
“According to the latest news in the information centre, 23 people died,” said Muhamad Son Ani, district police chief in Nabire.
“This is only the report from the city, not counting those outside the city because communication lines are dead,” he said by telephone.
Son Ani said 62 injured people had been treated and sent home, 30 were in a military hospital and about 60 in a local hospital. Officials in Jakarta said as many as 600 people had been injured.
The local hospital itself had been badly damaged, another official said.
B. Rumbiak, Nabire meteorology station chief, said earlier by telephone that there had been 11 aftershocks.
“The victims died because of fallen houses and buildings which could not endure earthquakes,'' said Fauzi, co-ordinator of the national earthquake centre.
District police chief Son Ani said: “Residents are still afraid and worried that there will be other aftershocks because until now we can still feel the shaking. People are setting up tents outside their houses.”
He said the dead included at least four children. – Reuters
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