Death toll tops 500 after second earthquake

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A major rescue operation was under way today after a second powerful earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra, killing hundreds and leaving thousands trapped in rubble.

Officials said the confirmed death toll had passed 500 after the latest 6.8-magnitude quake - about 180 miles from the epicentre of the more powerful tremor at sea yesterday.



Hundreds of buildings in the Sumatran city of Padang collapsed after yesterday's 7.6 magnitude quake, including two hospitals, a shopping mall and mosques. Several landslides were also reported nearer the coast.



Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warned people to be "prepared for the worst" as the scale of the tragedy unfolded.



"Let's not underestimate (the disaster). Let's be prepared for the worst. We will do everything we can to help the victims," he said.



Martin Hatfull, British ambassador to Indonesia, said there were no reports of British casualties.



At least 500 buildings in Padang collapsed or were badly damaged in the first quake.



The US Geological Survey said today's tremor hit about 150 miles south of Padang. It damaged 1,100 buildings, including mosques and homes, in Jambi.



In heavy rain overnight, Padang residents fought fires with buckets of water and used their bare hands to search for survivors, pulling at the wreckage and tossing it away piece by piece.



Health minister Siti Fadilah Supari confirmed that two hospitals and a mall collapsed in the city.



British aid was being sent today to areas of the country affected.



Stocks of emergency shelters, hygiene kits and clothing are ready to be distributed by aid teams funded by British charity Oxfam once workers can get through to the worst-affected places.



And the British Red Cross has launched a fundraising appeal to help those caught up in both the earthquake and the tsunami.



Mr Hatfull said British officials were being sent to the island today.



"At this stage, we don't have any information of any British casualties," he said. "We've been working to find out where Britons might have been staying and have also been checking with the authorities and hospitals.



"We know two Britons were in the area but they are, by all accounts, OK."



He said it was unknown how many UK citizens were in the area at the time.



"We think it's quite likely there were a few Britons there but it's not a major tourist destination," he said.



He said it was clearly "a very major and devastating earthquake".



"I have spoken to someone out there and the picture she painted was one of severe devastation," he added.



"Most buildings of two storeys and higher have collapsed or been severely damaged. Single-storey buildings are also severely damaged."



The UK Government said it was ready to help and was preparing to send assistance.



"The Department for International Development is closely monitoring the situation in Indonesia," said a spokesman for the department.



"We stand ready to assist with any specific requests from the government of Indonesia and are meeting with the Indonesian authorities, other donors and agencies in Jakarta this morning to discuss the needs.



"We are also preparing to send an expert humanitarian assessment team to Indonesia and are ready to mobilise the UK Fire and Rescue Service if called upon."



At least 80 people were missing at the five-storey Ambacang Hotel in central Padang. Rescuers, working in heavy rain, found two survivors and nine bodies in the rubble.



Indonesia sits on a major geological fault zone and is regularly hit by earthquakes. The latest were along the same fault line that led to the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed 230,000 people.



Geologists said the Indonesia quakes were not related to the other deadly quake that hit islands in the South Pacific on Tuesday.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage