Four killed after quakes hit Indonesia's Sumatra


  • World
  • Monday, 18 Dec 2006

By Chris Buckley

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Three moderate earthquakes struck Indonesia's Sumatra island on Monday, killing four people in one area and causing a string of aftershocks, officials at the country's meteorology agency said. 

The first earthquake struck at 4:10 a.m. (2110 GMT Sunday) with a magnitude of 5.8. Its epicentre was 128 km under the sea southwest of the city of Banda Aceh, an official from Indonesia's meteorology and geophysical agency said. 

The second, which had a magnitude of 5.7, came about 30 minutes later on land at a depth of 53 km in an area northwest of the city of Padang, the official said. 

A third quake, of 5.5 magnitude, hit at 8:24 a.m. in North Sumatra, the official said. 

An official at the Padang meteorology office confirmed an earlier witness report that four people had been killed in the western part of North Sumatra province in the town of Muarasipongi, 1,100 km northwest of the capital Jakarta. 

He said that three of the dead were from the same family. 

As well as the three moderate quakes, 26 smaller aftershocks occurred, the official added. 

Some mosques, churches and houses were badly damaged in Muarasipongi, Elshinta radio quoted another official at the agency in Jakarta as saying. 

Earthquakes are frequent in Indonesia, which straddles a seismically active part of the so-called "Ring of Fire" in the Pacific. 

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