Fault line that spawned Indian Ocean tsunami ruptures repeatedly
February 26, 2008, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Earthquake, Tsunami

The fault line that spawned the 2004Indian Ocean tsunami has ruptured nearly 20 times this month, with three strong quakes in the last 24 hours alone.

The activity shows the stress the seam is under and could be a harbinger of worse to come, scientists warn. Kerry Sieh, a U.S. professor who has studied the fault for more than 10 years, likened the seam to a length of rope in an imaginary tug of war between a group of men and an elephant. “One by one, two by two, the men are getting worn out and are letting go of the rope.

That puts more stress on each of the remaining men,” he wrote in an e-mail Tuesday. “Who knows which one will let go next, or whether they will let go all at once?” Sieh and other scientists using Global Positioning System transmitters to measure the uplift of the quakes say another massive temblor sometime in the next 100 years or so is likely, but they cannot give an exact prediction.

The fault line is the seam in the earth where the Eurasian and Pacific tectonic plates have been pushing against each other for millions of years, causing huge pressure to build up. It runs the length of the west coast of Sumatra about 200 kilometers (125 miles)offshore. The steady stream of quakes it is has produced this month do not seem to be alarming residents too much.

Witnesses say some cause people to flee swaying homes, but few are heeding or are aware of the tsunami warnings that automatically accompany the big jolts. “People did not really care because such a tremor is nothing new,” Erwin, a receptionist at a hotel in the coastal town of Padang, said minutes after a powerful quake early Tuesday.

The 2004 earthquake off Aceh province in northwest Sumatra had a magnitude of 9.2, making it the most powerful temblor in four decades. It triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean countries, more than half in Indonesia.

 Three months after the Asian tsunami, a magnitude 8.6 quake further down the seam killed 1,000 people, while in September last year, an 8.7 quake opposite Bengkulu province damaged thousands of homes, killed about 25 people and sent a 3-meter (10-foot) tsunamicrashing into nearby coastlines. The most recent events have occurred opposite Bengkulu. Last Wednesday, a magnitude 7.4 quake killed three people and damaged scores of houses.

Since Sunday, four other events strong enough to prompt tsunami warnings by international agencies have jolted the region.


Again, Indonesia Rocked by Two Powerfull Quake
February 26, 2008, 1:34 pm
Filed under: Earthquake

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia’s Sumatra island was rocked by two powerful aftershocks in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with local tsunami alerts being issued on both occasions, the US Geological Survey said.

A strong 6.7-magnitude aftershock struck at 1:06 am (1806 GMT) at a depth of 35 kilometres (22 miles), 164 kilometres southwest of Sumatra’s Padang, the survey said, causing people to wake and flee outside.

Three hours later the same area was rocked again by what appeared to be another aftershock, the USGS said, with that one measured at 6.9 and again 35 kilometres deep.

On both occasions the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued local alerts but there were no initial reports of damage or injuries.

The aftershocks came after a 7.2-magnitude quake struck off the west coast
of Sumatra on Monday afternoon, briefly triggering a tsunami alert, seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage.

A policeman in Padang who gave his name as Kalinggin told AFP that the first aftershock was felt quite strongly and residents rushed outside to ensure their safety, but there was no panic “as people have got used to quakes.”

“There were no immediate reports of damage,” he added.

“Most probably it’s an aftershock following the quake today (Monday),” Benny, from Indonesia’s geophysics and meteorology office (BMG), told AFP of the 6.7.

Last Wednesday, a strong 7.5-magnitude quake also rocked Indonesia’s Aceh province, at the tip of Sumatra, killing three people and seriously injuring 25 others on remote Simeulue island.

The Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Indonesia was the nation worst hit by the earthquake-triggered Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, which killed some 168,000 people in Aceh. (*)

Haze from Sumatra forest fires covers Aceh
February 26, 2008, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Forest Fires


(ANTARA News) – Banda Aceh Municipality and Aceh Besar District have been covered by haze from Sumatra forest fires over the past few days, however it did not affect flights at Sultan Iskandar Muda airport.

The haze had covered Aceh since last week, head of the Blang Bintang meteorological office Syamsuir said here on Tuesday.

The haze did not disturb flight schedules at the airport as the visibility was still above five kilometers, he said.

“Although it looks quite thick, the haze is not dangerous for flights even in the evening,” he said.

In addition to Banda Aceh and Aceh Besar, the smoke also affected Weh Island, Sabang, Pidie, Central Aceh, and Southeast Aceh.

Hot spots from forest and bush fires were detected among other things in Dumai and Bengkalis districts in Riau Province, West Sumatra, Mandailing Natal in North Sumatra Province, East Aceh, Jambi, South Sumatra and Lampung.

Last Tuesday (Feb. 19), the number of hot spots on Sumatra Island reached a total of 349, including 90 hot spots in Riau Province alone he said. Rains over the past few days helped extinguish most of the hot spots. (*)

Houses Collapse in Sumatra’s Quake, Feb 26 2008
February 26, 2008, 8:25 am
Filed under: Earthquake

(ANTARA News) – Three houses collapsed and a senior high school building was destroyed after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake rocked Mentawai Islands off Sumatra`s westen coast on Monday.

The quake which struck at 3.35 p.m. forced most residents living in coastal areas to evacuate for fear of a tsunami, Kortanius, chief of the Mentawai Islands district legislative body, said.

There was no immediate report of casualties.

Monday`s quake had its epicenter 165 km southwest of Muko-Muko in Bengkulu province in a depth of 10 km.(*)


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Tens of thousands camp out after Indonesian quake
February 22, 2008, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Earthquake

 Tens of thousands of people camped outside their homes on the Indonesian island of Simeulue after a 7.5-magnitude quake that killed three, an official said Thursday.

The quake hit just off the remote island located near Sumatra on Wednesday, triggering panic across the region lashed by the earthquake-triggered 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed 168,000 people in Indonesia.

“The majority of the population have not returned to their homes. Many are still in the hills while others are just in makeshift shelters built near their houses,” Abdul Karim, Simeulue’s local government spokesman, told AFP.

Karim said authorities were still collecting information about quake damage across the island, which is part of Aceh province. So far, 34 buildings have been reported as damaged.

The Aceh provincial disaster mitigation centre said late Wednesday that three people were killed in the quake and 26 others injured.

An official from the centre, Iskandar, told AFP that he was on his way to Simeulue with a team which would help assess the damage across the island, which is home to nearly 80,000 people.

Floods inundate four hamlets in Belu of West Timor
February 22, 2008, 2:48 pm
Filed under: Flood

Floods inundated four hamlets in Lasaen village, West Malaka sub district, Belu District, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province, on Thursday, due to the overflowing of the Benenain River.The flood waters reached a height of up to 2.5 meters, Belu Deputy District Head Gregorius Mau Bili said here on Friday.

The four hamlets were Umamoto, Lasaen, Bikolo and Besuri. The flooding did not claim any life but submerged belongings of local residents, he said.

The floodwaters reached the areas in the evening, forcing local people to flee their homes in panic and leave their properties behind, West Malaka Subdistrict Head Remigius Asa said.

West Malaka is located around 50 km west of Atambua, near the border with Timor Leste. (*)

Bush Fires :Number of hot spots on Sumatra island drops
February 22, 2008, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Forest Fires

The number of hot spots caused by bush fires on Sumatra Island has dropped to 41, according to the Medan meteorological and geophysics office.

“According to data from a satellite monitoring, the number dropped to 41 on Thursday afternoon,” Agus Syafril said here on Friday.

The hot spots were detected among other things in Dumai and Bengkalis districts in Riau Province, West Sumatra, Mandailing Natal in North Sumatra Province, East Aceh, Jambi, South Sumatra and Lampung, he said.

Last Tuesday (Feb. 19), the number of hot spots on Sumatra Island reached a total of 349, including 90 hot spots in Riau Province alone he said.

Rains over the past few days helped extinguish most of the hot spots, he said. (*)