My parents were in Padang when this earth tremor happened. There was disorderly mess–people went down the hotel’s stairways for safety. However, there was no coordination either from the hotel or the nearest local authority. I don’t know how many bad experience needed to shake us up and make us paying more attention to the adoption of Early Warning System and evacuation program in our day-to-day life. *sigh* However, I applaud the President’s decision to postpone his trips to Australia, New Zealand, and East Timor in the wake of this calamity.
For facts follow this link: U.S. Geological Survey.
Following are some coverage on this earthquake. In chronological order and the highlights are mine.
Date: March 28, 2005
Tsunami fears after 8.2 earthquake
Another earthquake has struck the coastal region of Sumatra in Indonesia, three months after the disaster of 26 December. The latest earthquake is serious and measured 8.2 on the Richter scale, compared with over 9 in December.
Tsunami warnings have gone out in the countries around the Indian Ocean.
The US Geological Survey says the latest earthquake was under the sea about 125 miles (205 km) north-west of Sibolga, Sumatra, close to where the quake of 26 December struck. USGS gave a time of 4:09PM GMT, 11:09PM local time.
After two hours from the earthquake incident, there has been no sign of a tidal wave hitting the Indonesian coast. Observers are advising that the possibility of a tidal wave has receeded.
A spokeswoman for the US Geological Survey said not all earthquakes generate a tsunami. It would have to be over 7 in magnitude, which this one was, but in a relatively shallow part of the ocean. The latest quake was 30km (18.6 miles) below the surface.
A tsunami is likely if the earthquake involves vertical movement of sections of the earth’s crust but is less likely if the thrust is horizontal or sideways sliding.
There is more immediate concern about damage to buildings on land as a result of ground shaking. Buildings have also been damaged on islands off the coast closer to the epicentre of the quake. People are reported to have been trapped in wrecked buildings on the island of Nias.
Some damage has been reported from Medan on Sumatra island, a town of 2.5 million people and the largest population centre on Sumatra. A relief worker for TearFund who had just returned to Medan from a visit to Banda Aceh said the streets shook like being on a ship at sea and the town has been plunged into a power cut.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says the earthquake may have directed waves to the south west and has alerted the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean to the possibility of a tsunami.
In the Maldives, the government has issued an advisory message warning people to be alert. Ibrahim Ahmed, speaking on Sky News, said everyone was being vigilant, watching TV and listening to the radio. Residents in Colombo, Sri Lanka, have been told to evacuate their homes. On the coast, a mass evacuation is under way but there a few houses left since the December disaster. Word of a possible new tsunami is reported to spread “like wild fire” along the Sri Lanka coastline, even in areas where there is no electronic media.
Sky News reported that the tremour was felt over one thousand miles away.
Don Blackman, a spokesman for the US Geological Survey, said tsunami activity would not be as widespread as in December, and the effects are likely to be localised. “Certainly evacuations should be occurring. I hope they are,” he said.
In Thailand, tsunami warnings have been issued and people in coastal areas have been advised to go to higher ground.
The Japanese meteorological service said the quake was as great as 8.5 on the Richter scale.
Tirana Hassan, a worker with Save The Children in Banda Aceh, said the initial earthquake was followed by numerous after-shocks. She said local people moved away from the coast.
Speaking by phone from Indonesia, marine tourism official, and special advisor to the International Council of Tourism Partners Faisol Hashim told eTurboNews that the earthquake was felt for at least three minutes in Banda Aceh, Meulaboh and Calang. It hit late at night local time and warnings were announced on loudspeakers in Banda Acech, and people fled to high ground.
In Meulaboh, one of the worst hit places in the December disaster, people left their beds and made their way to high ground. Also in Calang, where no houses have been yet been rebuilt after the previous disaster, the tremour was felt strongly and people moved to safer ground on a hill just a quarter mile out of town.
The earthquake struck just a day after scientists had completed a survey of the area from Bali north to the Andaman and Nicobar islands, and gave a warning that the stress built up by the December quake was so great that another earthquake was inevitable.
Tsunami warnings have been issued for places within 600 miles of the epicenter of the quake. The Indonesian resort of Bali is thought to be in no danger as it is shielded by the land mass from waves that may be generated.
Warnings have gone out in Thailand and in India, but there was no sign of a tsunami in the first hour after the earthquake was registered.
The latest earthquake off Sumatra occurred just a day after government ministers and officials from 56 countries were meeting in Seoul, South Korea, and heard fresh calls for an Asia-wide Tsunami warning system.
They were attending a UN-sponsored conference where Klaus Toepfer, director of the UN Environment Program said there was no doubt that an early warning system was needed. “But we also have to do it for all kinds of natural hazards” he said. Toepfer said that any warning system must use local knowledge to provide an information chain on how to make people aware and trained to react very, very clearly. In the event, people in the areas most affected responded quickly to news of the earthquake and fled from the coast. There have been no reports of a tidal wave of the severity of a tsunami in three hours, and the danger is believed to have passed.
But on the island of Nias, off Sumatra, dozens of casualties are reported in conventional surface damage resulting from the earthquake. Buildings have been wrecked and it’s feared that hundreds of people have been trapped in rubble.
Scientists from the Indonesian geophysics agency in Jakarta have said this earthquake does not appear to have triggered a tsunami, and that its effects were localised. The tremor was
strong enough to have been felt as far away as Singapore.
Date: 28 March 2005
ICTP Responds to Tsunami Threat
Honolulu, March 28 — The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) expresses its deepest concern for the recent tsunami threat that is affecting Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Japan. A major earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island late Monday, and officials issued a tsunami warning for as far away as Sri Lanka. Residents of Banda Aceh fled their homes in panic.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor, which occurred at 11:09 p.m. local time (11:09 a.m. EST), measured a magnitude of 8.2. It was described by one of the agency’s geologists as an aftershock of the devastating Dec. 26 quake. On March 22, 2005, eTurboNews (eTN) reported that a team from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland says the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra that provoked the Indian Ocean tsunami on December 26 makes another disaster more likely, not less. Sadly, the scientists have been accurate in their assessment.
ICTP chairman Thomas Steinmetz has been in constant contact with several government officials from the threatened areas. He said ICTP will set-up an online communication portal in the event that it is warranted.
The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) is a force for socially responsible and sustainable travel. ICTP supports the UN Millennium Development Goals, the World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics and a range of programs that underpin them. Members in 120 countries across the globe are from public sector, private sector & civil society – organizations and individuals. Its Advisory Board is drawn from industry and government policymakers. ICTP provides a web-based platform for the industry to showcase socially responsible tourism strategy and a constant connection to decision makers at the highest level. It seeks to be complimentary and inclusionary around its mission while retaining its own particular focus and drive.
For more information on ICTP go to www.tourismpartners.org.
Date: March 29, 2005
8.2 quake strikes off Sumatra
Jakarta, Kompas – A quake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale struck Monday night at 23.09 on the sea between Pulau Nias (North Sumatera ) and Pulau Simeulue, Aceh. It resulted in much panic in Medan and Banda Aceh. Many people left their homes while electricty and phone lines were cut off.
Tremors were also felt as far afield as Padang, Jambi, Pekanbaru and Riau.
A Kompas journalist in Medan reported that the tremors were stronger and lasted longer than on 26 December.
The Kompas reporter was only able to send out news using SMS and a sattelite phone.
According to a member of Parliament who was in a hotel in Medan, the tremor lasted for three minutes. ‘All guests in the hotel left by emergency stairways, and there was widespread panic.
Tremors were also felt in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Date: March 30, 2005
Opinion and Editorial
They say that lightning never strikes twice. But earthquakes apparently do. Just a few days over three months since a 9-magnitude temblor sent the ocean crashing over littoral areas around the region leaving 288,000 people dead or missing, another killer quake measuring 8.7 on the open-ended Richter scale jolted roughly the same area around the Indian Ocean near midnight on Monday.
Given the remoteness of many of the areas that were affected, precise information of the devastation which this latest calamity has wrought is as yet difficult to obtain. But even at this early stage, officials are reporting that hundreds, and probably thousands, of people have been killed, many of them by their collapsing houses while they lay fast asleep as the midnight hour approached. The first temblor struck the northern parts of Sumatra at 11:15 p.m. local time.
In urban centers, such as Banda Aceh, Lhok Seumawe and Medan, thousands fled their homes for higher ground in cars, on motorbike or on foot, mindful of the near-total devastation that the Dec. 26 earthquake-triggered tsunami wrought some three months earlier. Calm returned only after it became clear that no new tsunami was about to materialize and that in terms of both magnitude and destructive effect, Monday’s temblor was far less than the Dec. 26 killer quake.
Even so, it is clear that the devastation is considerable. In the early hours after the tremor, for example, officials in Gunungsitoli, capital of the remote island of Nias off the West Sumatra coast, reported that about 70 percent of the buildings in and around the local market had been destroyed and hundreds of people had been killed. Appalling as it may be, that report may paint an overoptimistic picture of the situation. And while Gunungsitoli was without doubt hard hit, the devastation is believed to be probably even greater at Teluk Dalam, the island’s remote port, near the popular surfing beach of Lagundri.
Whatever the case, these are tentative observations and the precise extent of the damage will only become clear after methodical tallies have been made. In one estimate, given by Vice President Jusuf Kalla in Jakarta on Tuesday morning and based merely on the number of buildings destroyed, the death toll could be anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 on the island of Nias alone. As of Tuesday noon, rescue workers were reported to be still pulling bodies from out of the wreckage of buildings on Nias Island, but poor communications have so far hampered rescue operations elsewhere.
It is heartening to learn that offers of help have already come in from countries as far apart as the United States, Australia and Japan. All have said they would be ready to send assistance as soon as they receive a request from the Indonesian government. And given the sort of spirit of international cooperation in times of adversity that was demonstrated in the wake of the Dec. 26 tsunami, there is little doubt that more countries will follow suit. The Indonesian Red Cross, for its part, has already rushed a team and medical supplies to the island to help the victims.
Amid all this, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s gesture of sympathy to those affected by this most recent calamity certainly deserves to be commended. We have no doubt that the Australian authorities will fully understand and accept the president’s decision to delay his planned visit to Canberra, given the circumstances.
We are more than thankful for all the help that has been extended to the victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami in Aceh and North Sumatra. We only hope that the same assistance can be made available, and without too much delay, to the people of Nias and the nearby islands and regions who have been made to suffer at the hands of nature.
Date: March 30, 2005
Authorities say up to 1,000 dead in latest Indonesian earthquake
Gunung Sitoli, Nias (AP): About 1,000 people were killed in this week’s 8.7-magnitude quake that struck re
mote Nias island, the regional governor said on Wednesday.
North Sumatra Gov. Rizal Nurdin estimated that 1,000 people died in the latest disaster, but officials feared the number could climb to 2,000.
Residents swarmed over collapsed buildings in the island’s main town of Gunung Sitoli early Wednesday searching frantically for survivors. A pair of legs could be seen sticking out of the wreckage of one house.
The town’s hospital was barely functioning: It lacked power or water, and fuel for generators and vehicles was running low.
“We know there are many people critically injured,” said Dr. Norman Peeler, a medical coordinator from World Health Organization. “It is essential they get treatment, infections spread easily in open wounds.”
At a makeshift triage center on a soccer field next to the town’s palm-fringed Indian Ocean beach 13 patients spent the night under a corrugated iron roof hoping to get on helicopter flights to a hospital on Indonesia’s nearest main island of Sumatra.
But rain and cloudy weather grounded many planned flights, officials said.
“I have three critical patients with internal bleeding and serious fractures, but there is no space on the choppers,” Indonesian Red Cross worker Ahmad Haris said.
Date: March 30, 2005
Earthquake brings back bad memories
By Apriadi Gunawan and Sjofiardi Bachyul, Medan/Padang
With her four-year-old daughter sobbing in her arms, Elly rushed from her house in Belawan area after a very strong earthquake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale jolted Medan city late on Monday.
Fearing another tsunami, Elly was desperate to get as far away from the coast as possible, fleeing with her neighbors to higher ground on Belmerah toll road.
She kept on running, even when enveloped in darkness after the power failed due to the earthquake, the second biggest after the 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunamis that swept Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and North Sumatra on Dec. 26 last year.
The 29-year-old woman, and her neighbors, finally stopped running when they reached the toll road. There, thousands of other Belawan residents had taken shelter.
The Belawan residents stayed on the toll road for six hours, bringing traffic to a halt. They eventually returned home after government officials convinced them there was no tsunami risk.
Elly said she had heard rumors that the earthquake would cause giant waves.
“I was so scared I decided to run to safety,” she told The Jakarta Post on the toll road at dawn on Tuesday.
She had been asleep at the time of the quake but had woken up due to the violent rattling of her bed.
“If the quake was not so strong, I would not have woken up,” recalled the woman, whose husband was out of town for business.
The strong quake also shocked other Medan residents.
Iskandar, who was staying in the Grand Angkasa Hotel in Medan, said when the quake hit he headed outside as fast as he could.
“I was watching television when all the things in my room began to shake. I quickly left the hotel room and ran downstairs without so much as turning off the TV,” he said.
According to Iskandar, the earthquake was much more powerful than the one on Dec. 26.
“The latest quake was much stronger and lasted longer,” said Iskandar.
Other Medan residents abandoned their homes and took shelter in safer places, including several mosques. Some, like Padang Bulan residents, chose to flee to the higher Pancur Batu area.
A staff member of the North Sumatra coordination unit, Pandia, said that no causalities had been reported in Medan so far.
Padangpanjang Meteorological and Geophysics Agency (BMG) in West Sumatra said that Monday’s earthquake reached IV Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) in Padang, far above the scale of Dec. 26’s earthquake of II MMI.
The MMI, otherwise called Ground Shaking Intensity, is a subjective measure of the strength of an earthquake.
Monday’s earthquake was also felt for longer in Padang than the one on Dec. 26 — 15 minutes as compared to five minutes.
Just like in Medan, the earthquake forced almost all residents in Padang to flee to safer places.
People living by the beach fixed their eyes on the sea. But there were no telltale signs of a tsunami, the tide did not recede and the people were finally convinced of their safety.
“I was watching television when all the things in my room began to shake. I quickly left the hotel room and ran downstairs without so much as turning off the TV.”
— Iskandar in Medan
Date: March 30, 2005
World offers condolences, relief after new Indonesian quake
Washington (Agencies): The United Nations and other countries around the world offered condolences and relief Tuesday after more than a thousand people were feared to have died when a huge earthquake rocked an island off northwest Indonesia.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was “deeply distressed” by news of the earthquake, a UN spokesman said.
“He pledges the United Nations’ support for the people of Indonesia at this difficult hour, as well as its readiness to help with reconstruction efforts at the appropriate time,” the spokesman pointed out as reported by AFP.
Singapore sent military helicopters and a team of medical and rescue workers to the island of Nias, which bore the brunt of the 8.7-magnitude quake that triggered tsunami warnings and caused panic across the Indian Ocean.
China’s government said it would donate US$500,000 in cash to Indonesia, while its Red Cross pledged $300,000.
The European Union’s executive commission said it had sent an assessment team to the affected area and would offer financial aid if needed.
“The news of this tragic event again hitting your country leaves me deeply hurt,” said Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, offering the sympathies of the Italian people in a message to his counterpart in Indonesia, Hassan Wirayuda.
Relief agencies in Britain reacted swiftly to the killer earthquake.
Oxfam International, active in the region following the December quake, said it had sent an assessment team to Nias island by helicopter from the regional Indonesian capital Banda Aceh to size up the scale of the disaster.
Germany also extended an offer of assistance, if it is needed.
“Your country suffered immeasurably from the tsunami in December and for Indonesia to suffer a large number of dead and injured again so soon afterwards is particularly tragic,” Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a letter of condolence to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
South Africa offered emergency relief to Indonesia “within the limited resources at its disposal” as President Thabo Mbeki expressed his condolences.
Ottawa is prepared to give aid to earthquake victims in Indonesia, Canada’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to express my deepest sympathies for the loss of life and the destruction caused by this earthquake,” Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said, adding that the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta was “closely monitoring” the situation.
A New Zealand aid group is sending bo
ats with medical teams to the Indonesian island of Nias to help those injured in the devastating earthquake, a New Zealand aid agency said on Wednesday.
New Zealand private aid group SurfAid would also fly doctors to Nias in a helicopter as soon as they find one to hire, said government funding agency NZAid spokeswoman Catrina McDiarmid.
“As soon as they have one they’ll take it up,” McDiarmid said as quoted by AP, adding the group had “arranged four boats and they’re staffing those with local doctors and nurses which will go to Nias.”
Date: March 30, 2005
Nias quake kills hundreds
Hundreds of islanders in North Sumatra and Aceh who escaped the terrible waves of three months ago were killed early Tuesday in a strong earthquake.
Residents started to search through smoldering rubble for survivors on Nias island on Tuesday and relatives wept over the bodies of the dead after a huge undersea earthquake struck the region, triggering tsunami warnings and causing massive panic around the Indian Ocean rim.
Estimates of the number dead ranged from 330 to 2,000, apart from some 100 in Simeulue island in the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
The epicenter of Monday’s quake, which measured 8.7 on the Richter scale, was just 320 kilometers away from that of the Dec. 26 quake, which sent giant waves crashing into 12 nations, killing over 273,000 people, mostly in Aceh. Nias was also affected by the tsunami but only some 130 were reported dead.
Unlike residents on Sumatra’s mainland, locals on Nias and Simeulue said they had escaped to higher ground following the earthquake after seeing the ocean recede, which they knew meant a tsunami was on the way. They cited their elders’ stories of similar disasters, which, among other things, had led to the stranding of whales.
Budi Atmaji Adiputro, a spokesman for the Coordinating Agency for National Disaster Relief, said rescuers found 330 bodies in the rubble on Tuesday. The toll was expected to rise as more bodies were believed to be trapped in collapsed buildings, he said.
From the air, it appeared that about 30 percent of the buildings in Gunung Sitoli, the island’s biggest city, were destroyed, and there was significant damage to the island’s second biggest town, Teluk Dalam, Associated Press reported.
But Antara said that some 80 percent of the buildings in Gunung Sitoli had been destroyed. It added that many bridges were down, while telecommunications and electricity were still out. Most people in Gunung Sitoli had fled to the hills amid fears of a tsunami.
The head of the health office in Aceh province, Mulya Hasjmy, told Agence France Presse that a disaster task force on Simeulue island had counted 100 dead.
But Vice President Jusuf Kalla told the British Broadcasting Corporation that reports from Nias indicated that between 1,000 and 2,000 people had died. Nias island, which is popular with surfers, has a population of some 700,000 people.
The undersea quake struck about 200 kilometers off the west coast of Sumatra and prompted Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, among other nations, to issue imminent tsunami warnings.
Alerts went out on television and radio, while police and local residents tried to shepherd people away from the coast towards higher ground.
But the giant tsunamis never materialized and three hours after the quake Indonesia and Thailand gave the all-clear. Sri Lanka and India followed several hours later, AFP reported.
Survivors — frail, weeping and swathed in bloody bandages — described how they were trapped by falling rubble when the giant tremor struck.
Some 20 people, mostly suffering from broken bones, deep cuts and bruises, were flown from Nias aboard two UN helicopters to the Sumatra island city of Sibolga, where they were transferred to hospital.
“I was fast asleep when the earthquake occurred but I woke up just in time to escape from the crumbling roof of my dormitory,” 20-year-old student Serasi Hulu, who suffered a broken arm and fingers, told AFP.
Pale, bruised and visibly weak from his ordeal, Hulu said he had tried to dash from his room but was pinned down by falling masonry.
“Before I managed to get out of the house, part of the roof fell on me and I was trapped for several hours along with two of my high school mates,” he said. “I believe they may have died.”
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who decided to delay official trips to Australia, New Zealand and East Timor, held an emergency Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to coordinate the relief operation for Nias.
“We had just ended the emergency relief operation in Aceh and Nias when we were taken by surprise again by the earthquake in Nias and Simeulue,” said Susilo, who is also planning to visit the islands.
He also welcomed the immediate response of the international community and the offers to help Indonesia.
Singapore said it had dispatched military helicopters and a team of medical and rescue workers to Nias, while Japan offered to send relief goods, paramedics and troops.
Australia promised US$1 million, while China announced it would donate $300,000.
Meanwhile, aid flights began reaching Nias island on Tuesday. Bad weather, a damaged airport and heavy cloud cover kept many flights from landing, but in the afternoon there were reports of at least three planes touching down on the island.
Date: March 30, 2005
Susilo delays trips in honor of quake victims
By Muninggar Sri Saraswati and Rendi A. Witular, Jakarta
As a token of sympathy to the victims of the 8.7-magnitude earthquake affecting Nias and Simeuleu islands, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delayed his visit to Australia, New Zealand and East Timor scheduled to start on Wednesday.
Instead, Susilo will pay a visit to the quake-affected areas, which were also affected by the Dec. 26 9.0-magnitude temblor along the same the fault line.
“I decided to postpone the visit until we are sure that we can handle the calamities there,” the president told the public at the State Palace on Tuesday. “I was scheduled to visit the three countries for six days. The trip was supposed to be a follow-up cooperation on post-tsunami disaster in Aceh.”
However, Susilo did not say if there was a new schedule for the visit, saying “it will be done sometime in the future”.
Susilo is slated to visit the quake-affected islands on Wednesday or Thursday to directly assess the damages and coordinate the emergency relief efforts.
“I will visit Nias and Simeuleu. But the most important thing is that the aid, medical workers and doctors arrive first,” he said.
Susilo was originally scheduled to fly to Australia on Wednesday to sign several bilateral cooperation agreements in the defense, economic and science sectors, as well as meeting Prime Minister John Howard, who attended Susilo’s inauguration last year.
Susilo, who planned to visit Canberra and Sydney, was also slated to meet Australian opposition leader Kim Beazley and Governor General Michael Jeffrey.
On April 3, Susilo was scheduled to arrive in New Zealand to meet Prime Minister Helen Clark and local opposition leaders.
The president had planned to wrap up his six-day trip by
visiting East Timor on April 4 to meet President Xanana Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said the countries had been informed by his ministry on the postponement, with a possible rescheduling for the visit until next week.
“We have informed them of the delay and we are seeking the best time for the visit. I think the delay will be no more than a week,” he said, adding that the three countries understood and accepted the reason for the delay.