3 dead after powerful Indonesian earthquakes: officials
Published Saturday, January 3, 2009 9:32PM EST
At least three people were killed when a series of powerful earthquakes struck near the northern coast of Indonesia's largest province Sunday, downing power lines, damaging buildings and sparking a tsunami warning.
A 7.6-magnitude quake hit about 150 kilometers northwest of Manokwari, a community in the Indonesian province of Papua, at 4:43 a.m. local time. A second 7.5- magnitude aftershock was also recorded.
Three people have been confirmed dead, including a 10-year-old girl, the Associated Press reported.
"Her head was crushed. We have our ambulances picking up two more," said hospital director Hengky Tewu.
About 20 other people have been treated for injuries ranging from broken bones to crushed fingers.
However, the death toll could rise as crews continue to survey the damage.
Papua police chief Maj. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto told The Associated Press that the quake had "destroyed" a hotel and a rice warehouse. However, he wasn't yet aware of any additional casualties.
In Manokwari, which is a regional centre, several floors of the Mutiara Hotel had collapsed and dozens of people were seeking medical attention, according to a local nurse named Ina.
Earlier in the day, the Indonesian Meteorology and Seismology Agency issued a tsunami warning, but the alert was cancelled about an hour after the quake struck.
Local reports suggest that homes in the town of Sorong, located near the epicentre, were also slightly damaged.
Indonesia is still recovering from the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that caused widespread devastation and killed 240,000 people, many of them on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The area was hit by another strong earthquake late last November with a magnitude of about 6.8, but it did not trigger a tsunami.
With files from The Associated Press