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 2nd powerful quake in Indonesia kills 9

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PostSubject: 2nd powerful quake in Indonesia kills 9   Thu Sep 13, 2007 3:59 am

2nd powerful quake in Indonesia kills 9
By ANTHONY DEUTSCH, Associated Press Writer

PADANG, Indonesia - A second powerful earthquake in as many days jolted Southeast Asia and triggered a regional tsunami warning Thursday, sending panicked residents fleeing by foot, motorcycle and truck.

At least nine people were killed and 49 hurt in the twin tremors, which caused tall buildings to sway in at least three countries. All the deaths and injuries occurred in Indonesia. There was no immediate information on casualties in other affected countries.

On Wednesday, an 8.4-magnitude earthquake spawned a small nondestructive tsunami off the Indonesian city of Padang on Sumatra, the island ravaged by the 2004 killer waves. A tsunami warning was issued across much of Asia and nations as far away as Africa.

Thursday's magnitude-7.8 quake rattled the same area of Sumatra and caused extensive damage.

"At least five large buildings including mosques, houses and a school collapsed," said Surya Budhi, who was overseeing emergency response in Padang.

Thousands of frightened people piled in trucks or sought shelter on high ground.

Rafael Abreu, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said Thursday's quake did not appear to be an aftershock to the temblor the day before. But the centers of both were close together.

"It's fairly large itself," he said. "It seems to be a different earthquake."

Indonesia issued a tsunami alert, lifted it and then reissued it. Australia's Bureau of Meteorology had warned that unusual waves could hit Christmas Island early Thursday, but locals said there was no sign of a tsunami about an hour after the predicted time.

"The danger has passed," said Linda Cash, a manager at the Christmas Island Visitors Center, adding that police were telling people to stay away from beaches.

The USGS said the new quake was centered about 125 miles from the Sumatran city of Bengkulu. It occurred at a depth of about 6 miles and struck at 6:49 a.m. Several strong aftershocks followed.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said Thursday's quake had the potential to generate a destructive regional tsunami along coasts within 600 miles of the epicenter. It advised authorities to take immediate action to evacuate coastal areas.

After Wednesday's quake, many people refused to return to their homes, fearing a repeat of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami off Sumatra that struck a dozen nations around the Indian Ocean. That disaster killed an estimated 230,000 people in a dozen nations, most of them in Indonesia's Aceh province.

Telephone lines and electricity were disrupted across a large swath of Indonesia, making it difficult to get information about damage and casualties.

Death tolls released by several agencies ranged from five to nine. Rustam Pakaya, the chief of Health Crisis Center, gave the latter figure, which was based on information gathered from local hospitals, clinics and regional health offices. He said at least 49 people were injured.

The first quake was felt in at least four countries, with tall buildings swaying in cities up to 1,200 miles away. It was followed by a series of strong aftershocks, further rattling residents.

Suhardjono, a senior official with the local meteorological agency who like most Indonesians uses only one name, said a small tsunami, perhaps 3 feet high, struck Padang about 20 minutes after Wednesday's quake. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also reported a small wave.

But most of the damage appeared to come from the ground shaking.

At least one person died when a car dealership collapsed in Padang and a fire ravaged the fourth floor of a department store, said Budhi, the emergency response official. Excavation machinery was being used to search the rubble for survivors.

The massive undersea temblor hit around 6:10 p.m. at a depth of 18 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

In Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, hundreds of miles from the epicenter, office workers streamed down stairwells as tall office buildings swayed. High rises also were affected in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Sensitive to the 2004 tsunami disaster, governments issued alerts as far away as Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, telling people to leave beaches. People in Mombasa, Kenya, crowded into buses after hearing the warning over the radio.

Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center sent cell phone text messages alerting hundreds of officials in six southern provinces, and authorities also were told to prepare in India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Sri Lankans were told to move at least 200 yards inland.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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