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Indonesia quake ‘traps thousands’

Thousands of people are trapped under rubble and at least 13 are dead after a strong earthquake shook the Indonesian island of Sumatra, officials say.

The epicentre was about 50km (30 miles) off the coast, near the city of Padang. It destroyed buildings and bridges.

A tsunami watch issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has been lifted.

It comes hours after a tsunami triggered by a separate earthquake in the South Pacific killed more than 100 people across a number of islands.

‘Extreme panic’

Rustam Pakaya, head of the health ministry’s crisis centre, told Reuters news agency a hospital was among the collapsed buildings.

Medical teams were on their way to Padang, capital of West Sumatra province, from neighbouring provinces, he said.

Local media reported the roof of the city’s airport had also collapsed.

Witnesses said residents ran out of buildings in Padang – which has a population of 900,000 – and surrounding cities.

“A number of hotels in Padang have been destroyed,” Rahmat Triyono, from the Indonesian geophysics and meteorology agency, told AFP news agency.

“Up to now we haven’t been able to reach Padang, communications have been cut,” Mr Triyono added.

An unnamed witness told Reuters there was “extreme panic” in the city, with bridges down and flooding caused by broken water pipes.

The 7.9 magnitude quake struck at 1716 local time (1016 GMT) some 85km under the sea, north-west of Padang, the US Geological Survey said.

Reports said the shaking could be felt in high buildings in the capital, Jakarta, and was also felt in Singapore and Malaysia.

The quake was along the same fault line that spawned the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

That much more powerful earthquake struck roughly 600km north-west of Padang.

Geologists have long warned that Padang could one day be completely destroyed by an earthquake because of its location.

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