At least 36 people were injured (eight of them seriously with head injuries from collapsing walls) and hundreds of homes and buildings damaged after a major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck in the seas of Indonesia's Sulawesi island near the Philippines early 12 Feb 2009 Thursday at 1:34am local time (1734GMT Wednesday).
There are some disputes about the magnitude of the quake. US Geological Survey (USGS) initially evaluated the magnitude of the quake at 7.5, but later modified this to 7.0 and then to 7.2 while Indonesia measured the quake at 7.4 on the Richter scale.
Besides human casualties, hundreds of houses in several areas have been damaged as well as office buildings, schools and health clinics. Dangerously, the quake also caused the collapse of the main district hospital, patients had to be evacuated to local health clinics.
The quake was large enough to prompt Indonesia's geophysics agency to issue a tsunami warning which was withdrawn when the critical period was over.
The quake can also be felt from the Philippines with the epicentre of the shallow quake was about 320 kilometres (200 miles) northeast of the Indonesian town of Manado and 280 kilometres southeast of General Santos in the Philippines.
Unlike Indonesia, however, there were no reports of any damage or casualties in the Philippines although several aftershocks with magnitudes of up to 6.3 followed the main quake.
The susceptibility of Indonesia to earthquakes arises from the fact that the islands straddles several continental plates in an area known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, where seismic and volcanic activity is intense. The Philippines is also vulnerable to quakes and and volcanic activity.
Earthquakes are particularly sensitive in Indonesia as it was the country that was most devastated by the tsunami in December 2004 caused by the earthquake with 168,000 people dead in Aceh province and Nias island.
BBC News, "Strong earthquakes hit Indonesia" dated 4 Jan 2009 in the BBC website [downloaded on 16 Feb 2009], available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7810106.stm
Channelnewsasia, "Dozens injured as major quake hits Indonesia" dated 12 February 2009 in the Channelnewsasia website [downloaded on 16 Feb 2009], available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/408525/1/.ht...