The September 2009, Sumatra earthquake occurred just off the southern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The major shock hit at 17:16:10 local time on September 30, 2009 (10:16:10 UTC) and had a moment magnitude of 7.6. The epicenter was 45 kilometres (28 mi) west-northwest of Padang, Sumatra, and 220 kilometres (140 mi) southwest of Pekanbaru, Sumatra.
Early death-toll estimates extended beyond 1300.Government reports have to date confirmed 1,115 dead, 1,214 severely injured and 1,688 slightly injured. The most deaths occurred in the areas of Padang Pariaman (675), Padang (313), Agam (80) and Pariaman (37). In addition, around 135,000 houses were severely damaged, 65,000 houses were moderately damaged and 79,000 houses were slightly damaged. An estimated 250,000 families (1,250,000 people) have been affected by the earthquake through the total or partial loss of their homes and livelihoods.
The whole of Indonesia except Borneo, Bangka Belitung, Riau Islands and Timor is situated within a zone of high seismic activity known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”. Along the Sunda megathrust, the Indo-Australian Plate is being subducted beneath the Eurasian plate. The subduction creates regular earthquakes, many of them of megathrust type. Specifically the Sumatran segment is currently experiencing a period of increased activity that began with the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake. Each earthquake of the sequence adds additional stresses to segments of the plate boundary that have not moved recently.
Because of its depth and the computed focal mechanism, the first earthquake is thought to have resulted from deformation within the descending Indo-Australian plate, rather than from movement on the plate boundary itself. The second earthquake has been linked to dextral (right-lateral) movement on the Great Sumatran fault which takes up the strike-slip component of the convergence between the two plates.
Tremors from the first earthquakes were felt in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, Malaysia and Singapore. The management of some high-rise buildings in Singapore evacuated their staff. A tsunami watch was triggered and there are reports of house damage and fires. Hotels in Padang were destroyed, and communications to the city were disrupted.
Local news channel Metro TV reported fires in Padang where panicked residents had run onto the streets as the first quake hit. Teams of rescuers from nearby branches of the National Search and Rescue Agency have been deployed to Padang. Large buildings came down in the earthquake. It was also reported that some water pipes in Padang were broken and there was flooding in the street. There have also been reports that at least two hospitals and several schools have collapsed as a result of the earthquake.
Indonesian officials have suggested that the death toll is likely to rise sharply, because of the large number of people trapped in collapsed buildings. Authorities announced that several disaster management teams were en route to Padang although it took several hours for them to reach more remote areas. Rescue workers pulled dozens of survivors from the rubble and rushed them to Djamil Hospital. The hospital itself was overwhelmed with patients, and many patients were treated in tents set up outside the hospital. A man was trapped beneath a flattened hotel for 25 hours with a broken leg before rescue workers pulled him free.
The Indonesian military deployed emergency response teams with earth moving equipment to help move rubble and recover trapped victims. Rescue workers and volunteers searched the rubble of a collapsed 3-story course building, rescuing survivors and recovering bodies while parents waited nearby. Indonesian villagers used their bare hands to sift through ruins and try to find survivors.
On October 5, Indonesian rescue workers called off their search for trapped survivors and increased efforts to recover bodies, clear rubble, and provide aid to survivors. Indonesian authorities used helicopters to airdrop instant noodles, blankets, milk, and dry food into remote areas, and to bring the wounded from these areas to hospitals.