State electricity company PLN cut power supplies to Padang following a 7.6-magnitude earthquake that rocked the neighboring town of Pariaman, located 78 kilometers southwest of the West Sumatra capital city.
The earthquake disrupted the telecommunications network in Padang and its surrounding area, making it difficult for the National Disaster Management Agency to collect data on people killed or injured and buildings damaged by the quake.
A staff member of the agency told kompas.com he had not received any reports of fatalities or damage, but he believed such a strong quake would have caused significant damage to buildings.
An earthquake researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI), Danny Hilman Natawijaya, said he was afraid the casualties and damage resulting from the quake would at least equal the destruction caused by a previous disaster in 2007. Some 52 people were killed when a 6.4-magnitude tremor shook Padang in March 2007.
“Padang and Pariaman must have been the most affected by today’s quake, and there are many high-rise buildings in Padang which may not have withstood the tremor,” said Danny, who has been studying Sumatra earthquakes for years.