Twenty-six die in Indonesian earthquake

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The Independent Online

Powerful earthquakes hit Indonesia's remote Papua province yesterday, killing at least 26 people killed and leaving hundreds injured.

The quakes, which measured up to a magnitude 6.9 on the Richter scale, hit hardest in the northern coastal town of Nabire, damaging the airport, a bridge, roads and buildings, said Margiono, a seismologist with the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency in the provincial capital, Jayapura.

"Eighteen of the seriously injured have been evacuated to Biak because Nabire's hospital is damaged," said a Nabire official, Johan Wanaha. He added: "Even my family have to stay under a tent outside my damaged house. No one wants to stay inside because we're all still afraid." The seismologist Margiono, who like many Indonesians uses a single name, said villagers reported a tsunami in Cendrawasih Bay, but this could not be confirmed. The Papua governor, Jacob Solossa, is due to inspect the area and co-ordinate rescue operations today.

The quake also struck the nearby towns of Enarotali and Manokwari. Fauzi, a meteorologist in Jakarta, 2,000 miles from the region, said up to 600 people were injured and he expected the numbers to rise. The police could not confirm that figure.

Jakarta's ElShinta radio reported that 500 houses in Manokwari were damaged. Several jolts were felt throughout the region from 4.05am to 6:30am. The largest lasted 30 seconds and was followed by nine aftershocks.