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Strong Earthquake Shakes Southeast Asia; Thousands Killed or Missing

Strong Earthquake Shakes Southeast Asia; Thousands Killed or Missing

Posted December. 26, 2004 22:36,   


Thousands of people are reported to be killed or missing as aftershocks continued more than ten times in many parts of Southeast Asia after a strong earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale broke out at 7:00 a.m. on December 26 around the west coast of Sumatra Island, Indonesia.

A massive earthquake hit not only Indonesia but also Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Myanmar. In particular, as a huge, 10-meter-high tsunami swept those countries after the quake, the damage toll is expected to grow with time.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said that the earthquake broke 40km beneath the sea around the western coastal area of northern Sumatra Island, which is 1,620km northwest of Jakarta.

The earthquake was strong enough to shake buildings in Bangkok, Thailand and Singapore, which are 2,000km and 950km away from the epicenter, respectively.

Indonesia’s Antara National News Agency reported that 94 people were confirmed dead in the Aceh state of Sumatra Island alone, and that the area turned into mayhem when many buildings collapsed and thousands of residents, frightened by the quake, poured onto the streets.

Detailed information on the scope of the damage in Aceh has not been provided yet because electricity and telephone services are completely cut off in many areas. Chances are that there will be more than 1,000 deaths in that state alone.

CNN said that the most powerful earthquake in four decades shook much of Southeast Asia.

CNN reported on the scope of damage, saying that the death toll reached more than 300 in Sri Lanka alone, that it was hit by 10m-high tsunami, and that some 20 lost their lives in the southern part of India. At least 200 fishermen were working in the coasts of Tamil-Nadu and Andhra-Pradesh states bordering the Indian Ocean.

In Phuket, a well-known tourist attraction in Thailand, four tourists were killed and many are injured or missing. Thailand’s meteorological authorities announced the tsunami took the lives of at least 100 and that it had evacuated some 10,000 residents of Phuket as an emergency measure.

The earthquake broke out two days after the outbreak of a powerful earthquake measuring 8.1 on December 24 in a sea area 800km away from Tazmania Island off southern Australia in the direction of the Antarctic continent, leading some experts to predict it may have been a precursor of the diastrophism.

An earthquake measuring 8.0 broke out on Hokkaido, Japan, injuring some 600 people in September 2003, and another measuring 8.4 took the lives of 74 on the costs areas off Peru in June 2001.

Young-Sik Kim spear@donga.com