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Strong quake reported off Indonesian coast

world Updated: Jan 04, 2009 08:47 IST
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A series of powerful earthquakes at dawn killed at least three people in remote eastern Indonesia on Sunday, cutting power lines and badly damaging buildings.

A 7.6-magnitude quake struck at 4:43 am local time (0113 IST) about 135 km from Manokwari, Papua, at a depth of 35 km, the US Geological Agency said. It was followed by a strong 7.5 aftershock.

Three bodies were found including a 10-year-old girl, hospital director Hengky Tewu told The Associated Press.

"Her head was crushed. We have our ambulances picking up two more," he said. Another 19 patients were treated for broken bones, cuts, crushed fingers and other injuries.

Papua police chief Major General Bagus Ekodanto said he received reports that a hotel and rice warehouse had been "destroyed", but he did not know if anyone had died.

Attempts were under way to search for possible victims.

Several stories of the Mutiara Hotel in the main city Manokwari collapsed, said Ina, a nurse at a navy hospital who treated five people from the building for cuts and bruises. Like many Indonesians she goes by a single name.

Electricity went off and people fled their homes in the dark, fearing a tsunami, said Hasim Rumatiga, a local health official.

The Indonesian Meteorology and Seismology Agency issued a tsunami alert, but it was revoked within an hour after it was determined the epicenter was on land.

"We have not been able to get any information of casualties or damage, but since the epicenters were on land, they have a potential to cause significant damage," said Rahmat Priyono, a supervisor at the National Earthquake Center.

A huge quake off western Indonesia caused the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed about 230,000 people, more than half of them in Sumatra.