Indonesian quake toll rises to 49

Indonesian quake toll rises to 49

Tsunami alert revoked an hour later

Indonesian quake toll rises to 49

Debris strewn all around after a building was damaged by a powerful earthquake in the town of Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Wednesday. AP

Dozens were still missing and feared dead after the quake on Wednesday triggered a landslide in Cianjur district in West Java.

Fahmi Azhar, an official at the West Java disaster relief coordination agency, said 49 people had been killed in the disaster but the number was likely to rise as news of more casualties came in.

Officials said more than 18,000 homes in West Java were damaged and more than 5,000 people were displaced in the hardest-hit areas.

Television footage showed residents cooking food in kitchens set up outside their homes to prepare predawn meals before they began their daily fasts during the Islamic month of Ramzan.

The health ministry put the number of injured at 422.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it had sent a team to assess damage caused by the quake.

"An interagency team is already evaluating the needs together with the Indonesian government," said the agency's Indonesia chief, Ignacio Leon.

The team included experts from the World Food Programme and the UN Department of Field Support, he said.

In Cianjur, searches resumed Thursday morning for at least 46 people who were buried alive and feared dead after a landslide blanketed homes and a mosque, media reports said.

The quake also jolted the capital, Jakarta, shaking buildings and sending residents running out of their homes and high-rise office owers screaming in panic. A tsunami alert was issued but cancelled less than an hour later.

Officials said at least one person was killed and 27 injured in Jakarta, where the tremor caused cracks in some buildings and shattered windows.

The quake struck at 2.55 p.m. (0755 GMT) Wednesday with its epicentre 100 km south-west of Bandung, the capital of West Java. It was felt in areas as far away as the resort island of Bali.

The US Geological Survey put the quake's magnitude at 7.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because continental plates meet there.

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck the southern coast of west Java in July 2006, killing more than 600 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami also struck in December 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia's Aceh province and half a million people homeless. A total of 230,000 people were killed in countries across the Indian Ocean in that tsunami and quake.

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