Thursday, October 01, 2009

Death Toll From Pacific Rim Quakes and Tsunami Rise

A second quake in Indonesia piled on the damage caused by the first earthquake, and the death toll there is well above 500, with the toll likely to rise into the thousands as thousands of structures collapsed.
The 6.8 magnitude quake came on the heels of a 7.6 magnitude temblor the day before.

The worst hit was the West Sumatra capital of Padang, where at least 376 people perished, officials said.

Rustam Pakaya, head of the Ministry of Health's crisis center, said thousands of people may be trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings and houses.

Rescuers used hammers, chisels and their hands to claw through debris in a desperate search for survivors. Health care workers treated the injured in a semi-collapsed hospital. Makeshift morgues were overflowed with dead dead.

State-run Antara news agency cited reports that part of a hospital had collapsed, burying people under debris.

The earthquakes caused widespread power failures, making it difficult for authorities and aid organizations to evaluate damage.
Meanwhile the death toll from the tsunami in Samoa and American Samoa continues to rise. Scientists who issue the warnings have scant minutes to figure out whether a tsunami is likely, and they issued warnings within 15 minutes of the quake, but for those closest to the epicenter of the quake that was not enough time. Tsunami waves travel 500 miles per hour.

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