Thousands feared dead after huge Asian quake

  1. Thousands feared dead after huge Asian quake

    More than 2,000 people were feared killed and hundreds more were missing feared dead today after a huge earthquake off northern Indonesia triggered giant tidal waves and flash floods across western Asia.

    The quake, one of the largest in history and measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, struck in the Indian ocean south-west of Aceh province on Sumatra island and unleashed massive destruction throughout the region.

    South Asia was the worst hit region, with at least 2,000 deaths reported by Sri Lanka and India.

    The Sri Lankan Government declared a state of disaster as at least 1,000 people were killed after huge waves battered the country's eastern and southern coastlines, swamping entire villages.

    Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is in London, was expected to cut short her holiday and return home, a spokesman for her office said, adding she was also appealing for international help.

    Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Press Trust of India around 1,000 people were dead in south India.

    In Indonesia, government officials said at least 150 had been killed but warned they expected the death toll to rise substantially.

    Popular resorts crowded with Christmas revellers in Thailand and Malaysia were also devastated by tsunamis.

    At least 99 people were killed and more than 1,300 were wounded in southern Thailand, with many of the deaths occurring in the idyllic tourist islands of Phuket and Phi Phi.

    A police officer in Phuket said at least six of the dead were foreigners who drowned on Karon beach on the island's west coast.

    The death toll was likely to rise with several officials reporting over Thai radio and television that beachgoers and villagers had gone missing.

    Police said 31 people had died in nearby Krabi on Thailand's southern mainland, at least 11 were killed on tiny Phi Phi.

    In Malaysia, six people drowned and several others were missing after being swept away by a tidal wave in the north-western resort island of Penang, a popular destination with foreign tourists, police and rescue officials said.

    The victims were swimming off the popular Batu Ferringhi beach when the wave hit, a police spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    He said five bodies had been recovered and identified as Malaysians.

    The Indian Ocean tourist paradise of the Maldives was hit by tidal waves, inundating low-lying islands, but there were no immediate reports of casualties, officials said.

    Residents of the Maldivian capital, Male, contacted by telephone, said most of the capital was flooded.

    Indonesian authorities said they expected the death toll to rise as villagers scoured the coast for others missing since waves measuring up to 10 metres swept along northern Aceh province.

    "According to villagers whom I talked to, the waves were up to 10 meters in height," Mustofa Gelanggang, the head of Aceh's Bireuen district told AFP.

    "The wave swept all settlements on the coast, and most houses, on stilts and made of wood, were either swept away or destroyed.

    "Some areas were under between two and three meters of water for about two hours," he said.

    Aceh, a region currently closed off to foreign media and aid agencies due to a long-running separatist conflict, saw unconfirmed reports of casualties, with buildings including a mosque and a hotel collapsing.

    A reporter from the private ElShinta radio said that the earthquake caused substantial damage in the provincial capital Banda Aceh, including the partial collapse of Kuala Tripa hotel and several shops as well as cracks on the road.

    Reports differed on the the exact location and size of the quake.

    The US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Centre initially put the tremor at 8.5 but revised it upwards to 8.9, while the Strasbourg Observatory in France said the tremor hit 8.0 and was located north of Sumatra.

    Jakarta's Meteorology and Geophysics Office put the quake at 6.8 saying it was centred in the Indian Ocean some 149 kilometre south of Meulaboh, a town on the western coast of Aceh.

    The tremors were felt as far away as the Thai capital Bangkok, some 1,500 kilometres north of the epicentre, where buildings swayed but no serious damage was reported.

    Guests of a high-rise hotel reported chandeliers swinging, according to a manager of the city's Conrad Hotel, while the Charoen Krung Pracha Rak Hospital evacuated all 400 of its patients as a precaution.

    Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 18,000 islands, lies on the Pacific ring of fire noted for its volcanic and seismic activity, and is one of the world's most earthquake-prone regions.

    Lying at the collision point of three tectonic plates results in frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as pressure between the massive segments of the earth's crust is released.
  2. 78 Comments

  3. by   donmurray
    It's horrible, this has been on tv all morning. We have a large Indian/Sri Lankan community in local healthcare, and those areas are many of the British long-haul holiday destinations too...
  4. by   gwenith
    Sorry to hear that Don - it looks really bad for Aceh. They can't contact anyone from the arear near the epicentre.
  5. by   Roy Fokker
    Man! Mother is in Madras right now. She ought to have called me last night but she hasn't. I hope she's ok!
  6. by   SusanJean
    Quote from Roy Fokker
    Man! Mother is in Madras right now. She ought to have called me last night but she hasn't. I hope she's ok!
    Please let us know when you hear from her! I have a feeling she is fine, but the communication system is down.
  7. by   Roy Fokker
    No word from Father either. I got no one to gripe to except Grandpa but he's probably worried sick about his daughter as well.

    My brother is mysteriously out of touch as well. What the devil is going on?!

    If Father doesn't answer me by tonight, I'm going to pull out the stops!
  8. by   UM Review RN
    If Father doesn't answer me by tonight, I'm going to pull out the stops!
    Contact the Red Cross, perhaps?
  9. by   suzanne4
    For all of the time that I lived or visited in Thailand, these tidal waves were unheard of. One of the nice things about the country is that most of the bad things just passed us by. Right now they are saying that over 200 people that were on Koh Pi-Pi are gone, the thoughts about Phuket being hit are really quite unbelievable. It is the main island to visit at this time of year for people from all over the world. And the first waves hit at about 10 am on a Sunday many hotels are just bungalows built on stilts right on the beach fir the back-packers. No foundation of any type.
    Wonder how bad the hospitals were hit there?

    So very sad...........................
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes

    What a horrible thing.....there have been a lot of big (over 7.0) quakes in Indonesian and Malaysia, as well as northern New Zealand lately. It's really something the horrible things Mother Nature can wreak. I had not yet heard about this quake until now....gonna go check out some news wires.

    To all who know or have someone they love there, I wish the best. Roy, let us know when you do hear from your mom. I will be thinking of you.
  11. by   Roy Fokker
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    Contact the Red Cross, perhaps?
    *shakes head* break out the emergency fund, buy me a plane ride home! Even if it means selling the shirt off my back!

    Actually, Father messaged me a few minutes back. Says he'll call tonight. Dangnabit! He still hasn't told me if things are ok! :angryfire

    I have no more nails left to chew. They say the toll has hit 7000 and is climbing...
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
  13. by   sbic56
    You're in my thoughts, Roy.

    The news now says up to 6000 have been killed. This is horrific beyond imagination.
  14. by   Roy Fokker
    Just spoke with aunt in Illinois. Says she somehow got hold of brother earlier on in the day (here) and he said that Mother had caught an early flight and was outta there before this whole thing happened. I have no idea why she caught that early flight, but I'm glad she did!

    Wait till Father calls tonight - he's going to get an earful from me! Letting me dangle like this!