Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Indonesia Quake Death Toll 42, Certain to Rise
The death toll from a powerful earthquake in Indonesia, which killed at least 42 people and forced thousands to flee buildings, is certain to rise.The 7.0 magnitude quake shook buildings in the capital Jakarta on Wednesday afternoon and flattened homes in villages closer to the epicenter in West Java.
At least 42 people were killed and more than 300 people injured. Officials said about 1,300 houses were damaged although local media put the number at 3,500. Another 42 people were missing, presumed dead, after the quake triggered a landslide in the district of Cianjur, about 60 miles south of Jakarta.
The death toll could be much higher as scores of houses and offices had collapsed or suffered severe damage. Some areas near the epicenter could not be contacted for
several hours, and communications were slow to recover.
Indonesia's 17,000 islands are scattered along a belt of volcanic and seismic activity known as the Pacific "ring of fire," one of the most quake-prone places on earth. More than 170,000 Indonesians were killed or listed missing after a 9.15 magnitude earthquake off Indonesia's Aceh province on Sumatra triggered a tsunami in December 2004. A total of 230,000 people died in affected Indian Ocean countries.
Indonesia's seismology agency put the magnitude of Wednesday's quake at 7.3 with the epicenter 142 km (88 miles) southwest of Tasikmalaya, in West Java.
The quake was felt as far away as Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, about 500 km (300 miles) northeast of Tasikmalaya, and on the resort island of Bali, about 700 km (420 miles) to the east. At least 38 people were injured in Jakarta. Buildings shook and thousands of people streamed onto the streets from office and apartment blocks.