31 March 2005

700 aftershocks rattle island

More than 700 aftershocks have rattled the Indonesian island of Nias since a massive earthquake hit on Monday, meteorologists said on Thursday.

According to records, the region was shaken by 48 aftershocks after the initial earthquake late on March 28, a further 628 over the next two days and 51 in the first eight hours of Thursday, said Burhas Simanjuntak of the Meteorology and Geophysics office in the Sumatra city of Medan.

"Their magnitude varied but they have stayed mostly between 4.1 and 5.5 on the Richter scale since Wednesday," he said.

The strongest aftershock recorded on Thursday was 5.5 on the Richter scale.

"There was a moderate earthquake reported at around 02:00 GMT but we are still computing its magnitude," Simanjuntak said.

Monday's massive earthquake registering at 8.7 on the Richter scale, centred under the sea near Sumatra between the Indonesian islands of Nias and Simeulue, caused extensive damage and killed hundreds.

It occurred three months after a quake measuring in excess of magnitude-9.0 left 220 000 Indonesians dead and missing and devastated vast areas of Sumatra's western coastline.


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