18 Jun 2010

Death toll expected to rise from series of strong quakes off West Papua

8:36 am on 18 June 2010

The Red Cross in Indonesia says a series of powerful quakes in the province of West Papua has caused significant damage.

Three people are reported to be dead on Yapen Island, following the quakes, which occurred around 120 kilometres southeast of Biak island.

The most powerful of the quakes, a 7.1 magnitude quake, damaged hundreds of homes and triggered a brief tsunami warning that also sent residents fleeing to high ground in Biak and the provincial capital Manokwari.

Bob McKerrow of the Indonesia delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross says early reports from Yapen indicate significant damage.

"The Indonesian Red Cross have rescue teams out there and assessment teams. Three people dead. Quite a few seriously injured. There was some major collapse of buildings and the damage is quite extensive. it's a fairly remote island - fortunately it's not that heavily populated."

Meanwhile, local media reports indicate the death toll from the quakes is expected to rise.