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Quakes shake nerves in West Sumatra

JAKARTA, 12 March 2008 (IRIN) Quakes shake nerves in West Sumatra - The Indonesian province of West Sumatra has experienced several earthquakes over the past fortnight since a 7.3 quake on 25 February sparked a tsunami alert. The almost daily quakes have centered on Padang, West Sumatra’s capital, and the Mentawai islands off the coast. Scientists are divided over when the next big one might strike. US-based geologist, Kerry Sieh believes the quakes and tremors since 25 February are signs of increasing stress. “Significant pieces are starting to break. But whether that means a magnitude nine tomorrow or 20 years from now, we cannot tell. Still, these earthquakes are clearly driving the Sunda mega-thrust closer to failure, accelerating things." "The mega-thrust wants to stabilise and to stabilise it wants to release energy ... so we can expect quakes anywhere along this fault-line, even in eastern Indonesia.” “If you look at evacuation routes for the Padang area, they don’t have the capacity for people to evacuate the 7-10km into the hills to high ground.” In fact, after an earthquake on 12 September, there was a three-hour jam of cars trying to get up into the hills. The government is installing tsunami buoys, but to date only two buoys have been installed. There are plans for another 19 to be placed in the next few years. Image: At the fishing village of Pasirnantigo, near Padang, some 10,000 people are at risk should a tsunami occur
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