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Seismologists Warn Indonesian Quakes May Get Worse

Breaking Earth News
Residents sleep on the road side in Ipuh. Huge aftershocks rumbled across Indonesia's Sumatra island. Rescue workers in Indonesia rushed aid Friday to Sumatra after massive earthquakes killed 13 people on the island and scared thousands of survivors into sleeping outdoors

PADANG, Indonesia — A series of powerful earthquakes has terrorized residents in western Indonesia — including one that triggered a tsunami warning Friday — leaving thousands sleeping on plastic sheets in the hills. Seismologists warn the worst may yet to come.

Kerry Sieh, from the California Institute of Technology, has spent decades studying the volatile fault line. He is one of several experts predicting a repeat of the massive earthquake that triggered the 2004 Asian tsunami, which killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen Indian Ocean nations.

"No one can say whether it will be in 30 seconds or 30 years," he said. "But what happened the other day, I think is quite possibly a sequence of smaller earthquakes leading up to the bigger one."

An 8.4-magnitude quake that shook Southeast Asia on Wednesday was followed by dozens of strong aftershocks — including one measuring a magnitude of 7.8 and another 7.1 — that killed 13 people, damaged hundreds of houses and spawned a 10-foot-high tsunami.

On Friday, a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit the area again, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, triggering the latest in a string of tsunami warnings that was later lifted.

On Wednesday, a wall of water slammed into several fishing villages on the island of Sumatra and swept away nearly a dozen houses, but caused no deaths. The massive quakes have also heightened experts' concerns.


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