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New Quakes Trigger Panic in Indonesia

Patients at M. Yunus hospital in Bengkulu, Sumatra Island, Indonesia, are treated outside after a powerful earthquake damaged the hospital on Thursday.
Dimas Ardian
/
Getty Images
Patients at M. Yunus hospital in Bengkulu, Sumatra Island, Indonesia, are treated outside after a powerful earthquake damaged the hospital on Thursday.
A powerful earthquake on Sumatra Island damaged the M. Yunus hospital in Bengkulu on Thursday, forcing the injured to seek treatment outside.
Dimas Ardian/
/
Getty Images
A powerful earthquake on Sumatra Island damaged the M. Yunus hospital in Bengkulu on Thursday, forcing the injured to seek treatment outside.

Indonesia was shaken by another powerful earthquake Thursday, the fourth in series of quakes that left at least 10 dead, 49 injured and hundreds homeless.

The most powerful quake Thursday registered a magnitude of 7.8 off Sumatra, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Several tsunami warnings were issued by Indonesian officials throughout the day, including one after a 6.2-magnitude quake at 11:09 p.m. (12:09 p.m. EDT) that was centered 166 miles offshore from the island of Sumatra, 34 miles beneath the ocean floor, the USGS said.

Wednesday's 8.4-magnitude quake was the strongest in Southeast Asia this year. But the huge mass of water it spawned was pushed to sea rather than land, said Mike Turnbull, a seismologist at Australia's Central Queensland University.

"It's a quirk of nature that this is how it happened," he said. "It could have quite easily have been the other way."

A 10-foot wave did slam into at least one village on Sumatra, the island ravaged by the 2004 tsunami that killed more than

230,000 people in a dozen nations.

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Rukhlan, a 43-year-old fisherman, said residents of the village, Muara Maras, were horrified when they saw the ocean retreat and then race back to shore.

"I heard people screaming and yelling tsunami! tsunami!" he said. "I ran to find my children, but they had already run to the hills."

A dozen houses were swept out to sea. Smaller waves were recorded further down the coast.

Earthquakes registering magnitudes of 7.8, 7.1 and two of 6.2 followed on Thursday in western and eastern Indonesia, the U.S. Geological Survey said. They were accompanied by dozens of aftershocks.

The worst destruction was caused by the jolts along the coast, especially in the city of Padang, 115 miles from the epicenter below the seabed off the western coast of Sumatra.

"At least five large buildings - including mosques, houses and a school - collapsed," said Surya Budhi, who was overseeing emergency response in the area, and rescuers were searching for survivors at a badly damaged car dealership.

A fire also broke out on the fourth floor of a shopping mall.

Yulinar, a fisherman's wife who lives with her husband and five children in a wooden shack at a waterfront market in Padang, said the second, magnitude-7.8 quake, just six miles deep, was so powerful they had to grab onto the furniture to keep from falling down when it struck at 6:49 a.m.

"It was very bad," said Yulinar, who fled inland with her family after a tsunami warning from the mayor was broadcast through mosque speakers. "I was so scared the tsunami was coming."

The third quake struck at 4:48 p.m. off Sulawesi island along a different fault line at a depth of 13 miles, the USGS said.

More than 30 aftershocks have rattled the region in the last day and many people refused to return to their homes, fearing a repeat of the 2004 tsunami.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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