A successive powerful earthquake has struck western Indonesia, south of the region which was already devastated by an earlier quake in which over 1000 people were feared dead.
A second quake, measuring 6.8 on Richter scale, hit Sumatra islands as rescue teams were struggling to find survivors from Wednesday’s quake which caused landslides, fires and power cuts.
According to media reports, at least 200 people are believed to have died in the regional capital Padang, the area worst affected by the first quake. Thousands of people are still trapped under the rubble throughout the western province.
On Wednesday, TV footage showed heaps of wreckage, collapsed houses and multi-storey buildings after first quake of 7.6 magnitude hit the area.
Earlier, the National disaster agency put the death toll at between 100 and 200 in the city which has a population of 900,000. However, Siti Fadillah Supari, health minister, said that thousands could have died in the landslides.
“I think it’s more than thousands, if we look at how widespread the damage is… but we don’t really know yet,” the minister said, adding, “This is a high-scale disaster, more powerful than the earthquake in Yogyakarta in 2006 when more than 3,000 people died.”
According to the US Geological Survey, the second landslides occurred at 9:31am local time (0131 GMT) on land, 96 miles northwest of Bengkulu, at a depth of 15.5 miles.
Padang sits on one of the world’s most active fault lines along the “Ring of Fire” where the Indo-Australia plate grinds against the Eurasia plate to create regular tremors and sometimes quakes.
Geologists have long warned Padang may one day be destroyed by a huge earthquake because of its location.