Thousands missing, feared dead following Indonesian earthquake

Thousands are missing, feared dead after an earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia Wednesday.

As we reported earlier, the 7.6 quake struck at 5:16pm local time and caused a tsunami alert for Indian ocean countries. There is no reports of a tsunami occurring, unlike the Somoan earthquake yesterday, however the size of the earthquake and its proximity to land has caused massive damage across Sumatra.

The town of Padang, West Sumatra, home to 900,000 people was closest to the quake epicenter, and reports from the scene note that there are widespread fires, and that possibly thousands of building have collapsed. Rescue efforts have been hampered by roads into the town being cut off by mudslides, and the airport in the city is closed to air traffic due to damage. There are also reports that at least some of the towns hospitals have been destroyed by the quake.

Indonesia’s health minister told local media that the death toll could end up being “higher than the Yogyakarta quake in 2006,” a quake that left over 5,000 people dead.

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The official death toll stands at 75, although is expected to rapidly rise throughout the day.