Khamis, September 03, 2009

Earthquake in West Java

My heart goes out to our friends in West Java. Turut berduka cita...

Death toll from West Java earthquake rises to 40.

A man prays beside
his injured wife in a tent set up by medical teams after an earthquake in
Pangalengan, West Java.


Thousands of homes were destroyed, more than 40 people have been confirmed dead and rescue teams have been deployed across a wide area of West Java after a 7.3 intensity undersea earthquake shook the Indonesian province yesterday. The death toll could rise sharply today, as villages assess the damage.

Aftershocks continued as residents in the majority Muslim population shared their pre-dawn sahur meal this morning, traditionally the last food they will take for the day before breaking their fast at sunset in the holy month of Ramadan.

"People were on the soccer pitch and suddenly the quake came," said Suhara, a resident in the village of Marga Mulia, near the major hill city of Bandung. "The earth shook and there was a thundering noise. People panicked."

He said hundreds of people in his village had spent the night on the soccer pitch rather than return to their homes, many of which were destroyed or seriously damaged.

Across West Java, which is home to tens of millions of people, reports were coming in of dozens of people unaccounted for, even as families quickly buried their loved ones after yesterday's shock.

Java, Indonesia's most populous island, has about 140 million people in total and the quake at 2.55pm local time yesterday afternoon (5.55 AEST) was felt throughout the island and as far away as Bali.

The US Geological Survey put the quake at 7.0 on the Richter scale, though Indonesia's Geological and Meteorological Bureau said it was 7.3.

<A tsunami alert was briefly issued, with the epicenter being off the southern coast of the region and about 30km deep. However that was quickly retracted.

In the capital, Jakarta, and other major cities in the area high-rise buildings swayed violently and suffered structural damage.

The Indonesian Stock Exchange did not cease trading during the 35-second episode, although a staffer admitted there had been an unusual amount of "panic" on the floor.

In the population centre closest to the quake's epicentre, the city of Tasikmalaya, the roof of the local parliament building was reportedly damaged.

However it was in rural areas where the impact was greatest, with poorly-constructed homes, often built with little concern for the regular earthquakes experienced right across Indonesia, failing to withstand the quake's intensity.

Many of the dead were also the victims of landslides, a common occurrence in deforested rural areas, especially with the wet season having just begun.

Rescue attempts were being hampered by the fear of follow-up landslides.

"We have prepared tents for temporary shelter in each district where there has been damaged," a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Board, Priyadi Kardono, said.

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