Rescue teams in Indonesia were searching on February 26 for six people still missing after a strong earthquake rocked Sumatra island a day earlier, killing at least eight people and injuring dozens, an official said.
The 6.2-magnitude quake hit the island’s north at a depth of 12km minutes after a less violent tremor on the morning of February 25, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), displacing thousands.
It damaged hundreds of homes and buildings including mosques, schools and banks, forcing terrified residents to evacuate and shuttle loved ones to safety in temporary shelters.
“At the moment the search is ongoing for six people we predict have been buried by a landslide,” said Abdul Muhari, spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), in a statement on February 26.
At least 86 people were injured in the quake, with 10 suffering serious injuries, according to the BNPB.
More than 6,000 people have been evacuated in Sumatra’s West Pasaman and Pasaman city, where rescue workers were using heavy equipment to search for survivors in the rubble of buildings, the agency said.
Indonesian meteorological agency BMKG warned people to stay away from slopes over fears of landslides at the peak of the rainy season.
Authorities in West Pasaman have declared a two-week state of emergency while the search and relief efforts continue.
“People affected by the quake urgently need tarpaulin, tents, instant food, clean water and family supplies,” Muhari said.
Images shared with AFP from Pasaman city, near the quake’s epicentre, showed partially collapsed houses with bricks lying on the ground and holes in the walls.
The town mayor’s residence also suffered damage, with shattered glass all over the floor, according to BNPB head Suharyanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Footage showed patients being wheeled out of a hospital in West Sumatra’s provincial capital Padang.
Alim Bazar, head of Pasaman’s disaster mitigation agency, said some buildings suffered cracks.
“The mayor called and ordered that all second and third floors in every building should be vacated,” he said.
Irpanda, a resident of Pasaman, told Metro TV he felt both the first and second tremors.
“At first, the quake only lasted for a few seconds. People fled their homes and buildings nearby were swaying,” he said.
“But then another quake happened and it was so strong. More people fled their houses,” he said, adding patients at a local hospital were also moved outside.
Tremors were also felt in Singapore, witnesses and police said.
“Earth tremors were . . . felt in certain parts of Singapore at about 9:45am,” the police said in a statement.
The police and emergency services “have received several calls from the public reporting these tremors”, they added.
Malaysia’s meteorological department said in a tweet that “vibrations” were felt on the peninsula’s western states.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, causing it to experience frequent earthquakes.
In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude quake struck the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people throughout the region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.