Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Thousands of people are buried under debris and feared dead or seriously injured after a powerful earthquake that struck the coastal region of Padang in West Sumatra. Rustam Pakaya of the National Relief Centre in the capital has confirmed a possibly massive death toll.
The quake, which occurred in the late afternoon, measured 7.6 on the Richter scale.
The latest news from the capital reports 75 dead and thousands of homes, offices, mosques and other buildings in the district of Pariaman razed to the ground.
The governor of West Sumatra, Gamawan Fauzi, clearly moved and dazed said: "Thousands of people are buried under the huge pile of rubble of destroyed buildings".
Gawaman Fauzi also said that at first people feared a tsunami, with many fleeing to higher areas, away from the coast, but the quake did not provoke any killer waves.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla in Jakarta has alerted all the ministries. President Susilo received the news late because he was travelling by plane from the U.S. to Indonesia after attending the G20. Susilo is expected tomorrow in the capital and most likely will go to Padang.
Direct communications with the earthquake zone have been interrupted. The international airport of Padang has suspended some flights for safety, although it is unclear whether the runway and airport buildings have been damaged.
Padang also lacks energy supplies: the national electricity company has confirmed that several pylons and power generators have been destroyed.