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Powerful Earthquake in Eastern Indonesia: 23 Dead - 2004-02-06


A powerful earthquake has struck Indonesia's remote eastern province of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more.

Local officials say the quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and hit during the pre-dawn hours Friday. It was centered on the northern coast of Papua, which is on Indonesia's half of Borneo island.

Many buildings in the region were damaged or destroyed, including a hospital, an airport and people's homes. Several aftershocks have been reported as well.

Frightened residents are staying out of their homes, fearing more aftershocks. The governor of Papua (Jacob Solossa) is expected to travel to the hardest-hit areas on Saturday to coordinate relief operations.

In the hard-hit town of Nabire, many of the injured are being treated in tents because of the damage to its main hospital. Police were helping residents search through rubble looking for missing relatives.

The Indonesian archipelago is one of the world's most earthquake-prone areas.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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