At least 2.000 people are reported to have died in Indonesia after a
major earthquake struck the island of Sumatra last night, triggering
tsunami alerts across the Indian Ocean and causing panic in countries
where more than 270,000 people were killed by giant waves only three
months ago. Read more here.

The ABCreports
that least 80% of all multi-storey buildings in the main city of Gunung
Sitoli were destroyed, noting that the last team of NSW aid workers
based on Nias returned home last week.

The Guardiansays
eye witnesses across Indonesia told last night of their fear and panic,
of people fleeing their homes in the darkness for high ground as the
ground beneath them began to shake. Tirana Hassan, a coordinator
for Save the Children, said people had started leaving in cars and
trucks, but the situation had calmed once it was clear there was no
danger of a tsunami.

The Agedescribes
Nias as a Bali-sized land mass, roughly 125km (77 miles) west
of Sumatra, known as a surfing paradise. Prior to 26 December, Nias had
been developing a modest tourist industry with a reputation as a
premium destination for adventurous surfers and scuba divers. The
island’s southern Lagundi bay is a regular feature of the world
professional surfing circuit.

The preliminary Earthquake Report from the US Geological Survey
National Earthquake Information Centre says the quake measured 8.7 on
the Richter scale. It provides detailed maps of the area involved,
including the location of the 28 March quake and its proximity to the
26 December quake. And the latest tsunami bulletin from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center
in Hawaii says: “Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated.
It may have been destructive along coastlines near the earthquake
epicentre,” but it also observes that “when no major waves are observed
for two hours after the estimated time of arrival, or damaging waves
have not occurred for at least two hours, then local authorities can
assume the threat has passed.”

Peter Fray

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