Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Day After Easter 8.7 Earthquake Report

From the Sydney Morning Herald

A three-metre-high tsunami struck Simeuleu Island near Aceh minutes after the huge earthquake that struck off Indonesia's western coast, Kyoto and Agence France-Presse news agencies reported.

And the fate of around 5000 people living on the isolated Banyak islands close to the epicentre of the massive earthquake remains unknown, as aftershocks continued to rattle Sumatra today.

``We are extremely concerned about the fate of 5000 people living in the Banyaks island group. We've had absolutely no news from these islands," Jude Barrand, communications officer for international aid agency SurfAid, told smh.com.au.

"There has been no contact and they were very close to the epicentre of the earthquake.''

A military commander in Indonesia's Aceh Province said the three-metre tsunami had caused extensive damage on Simeuleu Island.

According to an Aceh-based journalist who made contact with the island, the main hospital in Sinabang had been destroyed and could not be used. He said there were unconfirmed reports of 25 dead on the island.

Earlier today there were reports only of tsunamis running to 25cms high, leading experts to express their bafflement as to why last night's quake had not generated a larger tidal wave as in the Boxing Day disaster.

But there were later reports that an entire town which survived the Boxing Day quake - Aceh Singkil, on the south-western coast of Aceh province -had been levelled by the latest quake.

More than 10,000 people fled their homes there, Antara news agency reported. But there were no details of any casualties.

Endang Suwaraya, the military commander in the western Indonesian province of Aceh, close to the epicentre of the magnitude 8.7 quake, said he had received reports that Sinabang's port and airport were damaged.

The earthquake is believed to have killed between 1000 and 2000 people on the popular surfing island Nias, the country's Vice President Jusuf Kalla said today.

Already reeling from fatalities caused by the Boxing Day disaster, the 600,000-strong island found itself near the epicentre of the quake, which struck at 11.15pm local time (2.15am today AEST)

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