03/06/2007, 00.00
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Panic in Indonesia because of strong quake in Sumatra

Tremor is felt as far as Singapore and Malaysia. So far death toll stands at 70, including some children who died in a school. There is no risk of a tsunami.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A powerful earthquake has struck the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing at least 70 people and flattening hundreds of buildings. The tremors were felt as far away as Malaysia and Singapore, where several buildings were evacuated.

The quake of magnitude 6.3 was felt in the West Sumatra provincial capital of Padang at around 11 a.m., sparking panic among seaside residents who feared it might trigger a tsunami. Some buildings collapsed and several homes and other buildings were badly damaged by the tremors that sent several people scrambling for safety.

Indonesian television showed pictures of panic and confusion at overwhelmed hospitals as patients and staff rushed outside. Residents of some coastal areas fled to higher ground, but local officials said there was no risk of a tsunami as the earthquake happened under land rather than under the sea.

Indonesia sits on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, and experiences frequent earthquakes - as well as tsunamis triggered by underwater earthquakes. In the Asian tsunami of December 2004, over 130,000 people died in Sumatra when waves destroyed swathes of the province of Aceh.

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