Indonesia massive M 7.5 earthquake - the latest news

This update page will put breaking news on the Indonesia Mentawai Islands earthquake whenever it becomes available.
The most recent news will be on top of this page.
The earthquake informative page as published in the beginning can be found here.

Click on the picture to read the Jakarta Post

October 27 - 05:46 UTC UPDATE
First pictures of totally devastated villages are appearing in Jakarta Post.
It took almost 2 days before Indonesian Search and Rescue workers reached the Pagai Islands (which Earthquake Report does not understand !).
The vast devastation of some shore villages is now confirmed with the first aerial pictures coming out.
On the picture a Flattened village: The Jakarta Post photo shows a village flattened by Monday's earthquake triggered tsunami on Pagai island, West Sumatra, on Wednesday. Rescuers battled rough seas Tuesday to reach remote Indonesian islands pounded by the three-meter tsunami that swept away homes, and killed dozens of people.

October 27 - 00:54 UTC UPDATE
After Monday's quake and tsunami, many panicked residents fled to high ground and were too afraid to return home.
That could account in part for the more than 500 people still missing, said Hendri Dori, a local lawmaker, adding: "We're trying to stay hopeful."
Hundreds of wooden and bamboo homes were washed away on the island of Pagai, with water flooding crops and roads up to 600 yards (meters) inland. In Muntei Baru, a village on Silabu island, 80 percent of the houses were badly damaged.
With few relief workers able to get to the hardest-hit islands - reachable only by a 12-hour boat ride - fishermen searched for the living and dead. Corpses lay unburied because there was not enough outside help to dig graves, according to the Mentawai district chief, Edison Salelo Baja.
Excerpt of an article in the Jakarta Post - Read the full article

October 27 - 00:22 UTC UPDATE
Aftershocks continue to rattle the greater Pagai Islands area.
Aftershock east of Pulau Sipura, another Mentawai island. This is the first time since the major shock that the epicenter was that far north. Other major +6 quakes are possible because of the major movement of the plates.

October 26 - 16:50 UTC UPDATE
Nine Australians and a Japanese man were in the area aboard surf charter boat MV Southern Cross when the quake struck.
Fears had been growing for the vessel, skippered by Australian Chris Scurrah and Japanese Akinori Fujita.
But the men finally made contact with their Padang-based company Sumatran Surfariis (Surfariis) on Tuesday night.
"They are now safe, they have been found," staff member Yuli Rahmi told AAP.
"They only lost their phone signal, they didn't even feel any tsunami."
The men were now on land on the island of South Pagai
, Ms Rahmi said.
Earlier, humanitarian organisation SurfAid International had been coordinating a search for the vessel.
Read the full Nine News article from the Australian TV station

Southern Cross surfers boat who is missing

October 26 - 15:52 UTC UPDATE
New intermediate report on casualties : 113 people killed, 502 still missing.
Yesterdays earthquake becomes more and more a catastrophe for the people and their goods on the North Pagai and South Pagai Islands.
Medical teams and Search and Rescue teams have been sent to the islands (why so late ? ).
80 percent houses at Betumonga village have been destroyed.

October 26 - 14:30 UTC UPDATE
In September 2007, South Pagai was struck by and even bigger earthquake !
On September 21, 2007, an 8.4 earthquake struck Sumatra near South Pagai Island, producing a cluster of six small new islands, and enlarging others by uplift. A large portion of Indonesia is seismically active; the number, size, submergence and emergence and shape of islands continues to evolve. (Source Wikipedia)
Why have the authorities not learned from the 2007 earthquake.
It astonishes that no wave monitoring equipment was installed since then.
Although the time lapse of the wave striking the islands only 15 minutes after the earthquake, a fast detection system might have saved the lives of many people. Wave height estimates from calculated models have been proved to underestimate the wave heights.

October 26 - 13:04 UTC UPDATE
Reuters report 101 people killed during the massive earthquake.
Hundreds still missing

October 26 - 12:45 UTC UPDATE
24 hours after the massive earthquake and adjacent Tsunami struck the Pangai Islands, it is still not certain what the final result will be. The current situation reads as follows :
At least 41 people are killed while 380 others are missing,a speaker of regional parliament of Kepulauan Mentawai regency, was quoted as saying.
High tides have hindered the rescue work, preventing the rescuers from reaching the stricken area.
Detikcom online news reported that the government has no equipment to monitor waves in Mentawai.
A report said that the height of the waters reached 3 meters high in Silabu village at North Pagai Mentawai island, head of crisis center of Health Ministry named only Mujiharjo told Xinhua on Tuesday.

October 26 - 12:15 UPDATE

Nine Australians and a Japanese man who were believed to be aboard the Southern Cross were missing on Tuesday.
The missing group of surfers were on a traditional wooden boat, the Southern Cross, skippered by an Australian Chris Scurrah and Japanese Akinori Fujita.
SurfAid, a charity set up a decade ago to help villagers in the Mentawai region, said the boat was believed to be close to the quake's epicentre.
Dave Jenkins, SurfAid's founder, said Scurrah had "been around here for a long time. He knew to contact in if he could. So that's why we're extra concerned."
A search and rescue mission for the Southern Cross had been launched, Jenkins said.
"We do have increasingly worrying reports of quite high numbers of people who are missing in villages," he said, adding that he hopes to have accurate information on the missing boat by Wednesday.
Australia waited anxiously for news of its missing nationals.

The remote Mentawai islands are popular with surfers searching for big waves and pristine beaches.
Read the full Nine News Australia report here

October 26 - 11:55 UTC UPDATE
Area is jolted by continuous aftershocks measuring up to M 5.3.

A Mentawai village.

An old picture of the native tribes on the islands - Image via Wikipedia

October 26 - 09:22  UTC UPDATE :
Dead toll rises further on the Pagai Islands
Rescue teams found at least 4 bodies after a tsunami hit the islands.
VIVAnews just reported 21 people confirmed killed, 240 still missing.
REUTERS who is citing official sources is talking now about 40 people killed and 380 still missing. fears that the dead toll will even rise further tomorrow.  Soon it will be dark on the islands and we will have to wait another 12 hours before rescue teams can search again during daylight.

October 26 - 10:11 UTC UPDATE
Nine Australian surfers still missing
At least nine Australian surfers are missing after a powerful undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami in a popular surfing area in Indonesia's west.
The Sumatran Surfariis charter boat company on Tuesday said it was still trying to contact its Southern Cross vessel 16 hours after the 7.7-magnitude quake hit the Mentawai Islands, west of Sumatra.
"There is one boat that we haven't been able to make contact with, the Southern Cross," Yuli Rahmi, a staff member of the Padang-based company, told AAP.
"Among the passengers there are nine Australian citizens."
Read the full report + view the video footage of the Australian TV here

October 26 - 09:22  UTC UPDATE :
3 people confirmed killed (based on local informants of VIVAnews).  Hundreds are still missing and did not show up so far.  Officials indicate that people might have fled in the forest and had not return to their villages because of fear for huge aftershocks and other tsunamis. It will take at least 1 more day before we will have reliable data on the total damage, injured and killed people.
Damage has been reported on both North Pagai and even more on South Pagai. Most information comes from North Pagai, which was further away from the epicenter than South Pagai.
Official emergency services only have certainty about 1 casualty but confirm that their data is far from complete.
Pagai Islands are very scarcely populated and have only fishing villages and some surfer resorts.
One of these resorts 'Macaroni resort' was heavily damaged by the earthquake. Officials also said that they had no news of a number of ships that must have been floating in the earthquake epicenter area and near the islands.
Officials are talking about waves of 1.2 meter. However eywitness reports from Australian surfers were telling stories of waves up to 3 meter high. has stated from the very beginning that South Pagai was most at risk for this earthquake.
We will report more news if it has a added value and when it is reliable.

October 26 - 07:52 UTC UPDATE :
160 people missing after Tsunami
As feared from the very beginning by the earthquake ravage would be far greater than initially expected. For many hours their was no news of the villages of the Pagai Islands, but as daylight began reports were coming out of damaga and casulaties.

Reuters just revealed that at least 160 people, mainly woman and children, were missing on one of the islands.

Excerpt of a just published Jakarta Globe article
A major 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Indonesia on Monday, seismologists said, causing localized waves in the remote area.
A tsunami warning was issued, and while it was later withdrawn and no casualties were confirmed, a group of Australian visitors reported that their boat was destroyed by a œwall of white water crashing into a bay.
The undersea quake hit Indonesia™s Kepulauan Mentawai region at 9:42 pm at a shallow depth of 20.6 kilometers, the US Geological Survey said.
Mudjiharto, the head of Health Ministry™s Crisis Center, told the Jakarta Globe that two locals from Sipora Island had been confirmed dead on Tuesday.
There were also reports that 80 percent of the homes in two villages had been flattened.
œThere are many fatalities and missing people, but we are still counting.

Read the full article by clicking here

October 26 - 05:45 UTC UPDATE
Australian surfers fled to the trees when a tsunami struck the Pagai islands.

Australian surfers were carried more than 200m inland when a tsunami destroyed the boat they were on off the Indonesian island of Pagai.

The three-metre high tsunami destroyed the charter boat, though the 15 people aboard managed to survive by clinging to floating objects.

The group were then forced to climb trees to avoid more large waves coming inland after a major 7.5-magnitude earthquake, Nine News reported.
Read it all in 2 articles from Australia's NINE news   +

Australians OK after boat wrecked in quake

October 26 - 05:20 UTC UPDATE :
We have been able to get some new information from VIVAnews a local Indonesian newspaper.
Although the story is far from complete, residents on the islands are starting to tell the story.
A local tsunami of 1 to 1.5 meter high has destroyed a uncertain number of houses.
At least 2 people died and 1 is missing on some islands in South Pagai, after the earthquake struck in the Mentawai Islands on Monday.
The first information from the islands was  (not surprisingly) disclosed to Australia's NINE news by a number of surfers who were on a boat in the vicinity of the islands. Suddenly and shortly after the earthquake struck, a wall of water of nearly 3 meter high was rolling to the coast.

23:14 UTC UPDATE :
2 more aftershocks. One of M 4.9 at 22:10 UTC and another one of M 6.2 a couple of minutes ago at 22:59 UTC. After analyzing satellite pictures we assume that the most important inhabited village is located at the northern side of South Pagai. This location has not been directly hit so far. On the satellite pictures we can see e limited number of modern buildings.

19:52 UTC UPDATE :
Powerful M 6.1 aftershock strikes the same area. If the preliminary epicenter location is confirmed, this aftershock would be much nearer to the shores of Pagai South.
Read the detailed report on this aftershock here

19:43 UTC UPDATE :
Impressive seismograms from stations all over the world.
Awaiting more information on South Pagai, we hope our readers will take a look at the LIVE SEISMOGRAM OVERVIEW page from USGS.  All the seismographs all over the world are coloring black from this massive earthquake. From Alaska to Antarctica, all seismographs picked up the waves from the Mentawai Islands quake. The waves did travel through the  earth.

18:57 UTC UPDATE :
USGS has increased the Magnitude of the earthquake to M 7.7. This makes this (shallow) earthquake one of the most powerful that occurred this year and even more powerful than the Haiti and the China earthquakes, both with huge numbers of casualties. Contrary to what most agencies are reporting at the moment, this earthquake will have shock-waves from at least VII MMI (very strong shaking).  Local Indonesian Sumatra press has still no news from the Pagai islands. They indicate that the mainland did not experience a big earthquake which was previsioned from the beginning by the seismology agencies.
We guess that it will take another 8 to 12 hours before mainland can make more inspections during daylight.

17:40 UTC UPDATE :
Still no news from the Pagai Islands. Local Sumatra Padang press is mentioning 3 aftershocks measuring +5 Magnitudes.
Many witnesses confirmed that NO tsunami was seen on the beaches. Local residents did ran on the streets with the first shock and some of them went immediately refueling their cars to be ready in case a new heavy shock with a tsunami treat would hit the coast.

16:57 UTC UPDATE :
Mentawai islands : a surfer's paradise.
The Mentawai Islands are one of the most consistent surf destinations in the entire world. The power of southern Indian Ocean storms is turned by the prevailing SE trades towards these amazing islands and amplified. The result is surf that is remarkably consistent and of unsurpassed quality. During the southern hemisphere winter, (late April to early November) the Indian Ocean is an over-active, groundswell machine.
A big number of surfer locations with connected holiday accommodation is present on the islands. Click on this link to see the locations of a specialized surfer's website.

16:20 UTC UPDATE :
No news from the islands which where the most hit. We maintain our RED earthquake level as we predict that the shaking would have been very strong on South Pagai. Luckily, this island is scarcely populated. The lack of modern cities with stone and concrete buildings can be the fortunate element in this massive earthquake. As far as we can see, most villages on the islands are rather primitive and have wooden houses. Lets hope that this earthquake will not come in our extensive list of "deadly earthquakes".

16:04 UTC UPDATE :
2 Aftershocks measuring M 5.2 have hit the same greater epicenter area. We expect that many more aftershocks will hit the same area the coming hours, days and even weeks

As expected by, the Indonesian government has lifted the tsunami alarm quite soon. All simulations gave only limited tsunami waves on nearby islands which have been reached soon after the first very heavy shock.

Origin of the earthquake
The Mentawai Islands lie above tha Sunda megathrust, a seismically active zone responsible for many great earthquakes. This megathrust runs along the southwestern side of Sumatra island, forming the interface between the Eurasian Plate and Indo-Australian Plate.
Earthquake and tsunami activity has been high since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
In 1833, the region was hit with an earthquake possibly similar in size to the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake[2] and also another large one in 1797.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 7.5
Monday, October 25, 2010 at 09:42:25 PM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 33 km
Geo-location(s) :
240 km (149 miles) S (184°) from Padang, Sumatra, Indonesia
Near the shores of the island of Pagai (part of the Mentawai Islands)

Links to important maps
USGS Did You Feel It Map
Google satellite map of the area showing the kind of terrain the earthquake took place
USGS Shaking map
USGS historic earthquakes map
USGS Pager map
GDACS Green Earthquake Alert (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System)
GDACS Green Tsunami alert
Nearest LIVE seismograph in Papua New Guinea

* GDACS (Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System) provides near real-time alerts about natural disasters around the world. GDACS is a Joint Initiative of the United Nations and the European Commission

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