4 Jan 2009

Indonesian quakes kill four people

3:29 pm on 4 January 2009

A series of quakes off the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Papua early on Sunday killed four people and injured several others.

The first 7.6-magnitude quake struck at 4.43am local time on Sunday, about 150km northwest of the city of Manokwari, triggering a tsunami alert.

It was followed almost three hours later at 9.33am by a 7.5-magnitude aftershock, the US agency said.

Both quakes were fairly shallow, with the first hitting at a depth of 35km and the second at 45km.

The quake triggered a small tsunami that hit the Japanese coast but there was no damage, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

The Indonesian authorities also issued a tsunami warning for Papua, but lifted it shortly afterwards.

Priyadi Kardono, spokesman for the disaster management centre, said that the health ministry had confirmed four deaths from the quakes.

Metro TV reported that six people had been hospitalised.

Mr Kardono said that buildings had been damaged and power supplies cut in the area.

Hotel Mutiara in Manokwari was damaged, with one of the three buildings in the complex flattened, he said.

A key Indonesian energy venture, the BP-led liquified natural gas (LNG) Tangguh project, is near the area affected by the quakes, but a BP spokesman said there had been no significant impact on the operations.

Indonesia, which sits at the meeting of continental plates, is frequently hit by earthquakes and tsunamis.

A huge quake off western Indonesia on 26 December, 2005, caused a massive tsunami that killed about 230,000 people around the region.