Quakes Unleash Havoc in Indonesia

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WASHINGTON -- Two violent earthquakes in Indonesia Wednesday have left hundreds, possibly thousands of people dead.

More than 500 buildings in the West Sumatra province have collapsed, trapping untold numbers of Indonesians in the rubble. 

Residents Flee in Terror

As a 7.6 magnitude quake shook the nation that has hundreds of islands sprawled across a major fault zone, Indonesians fled in panic from the coasts around them.   

They feared a giant tsunami like the one that killed 230,000 people in the region five years ago might soon follow.

German tourist Christian Effenberger was showering in a bungalow along one of those coasts when the quake hit.

"I ran out to a little place where everyone has already summoned to get out of the houses and then we felt the sandy floor shaking in waves," he said.

No tsunami followed, but the damage done by the quake and another that followed Thursday was devastating enough.
    
Rescue workers dug frantically through the rubble of hundreds of collapsed buildings, sometimes by hand, sometimes with heavy machinery.

One military rescue worker said his crew was hoping to find survivors, they were trying their best, but they could see dead bodies inside.

Meanwhile, a powerful machine ripped through layers of cement at a school where more than 30 students were taking after-hours classes when Wednesday's quake toppled the building.
    
People already sleeping outdoors for fear any roof they were under might collapse on them, were shaken up further as a 6.8 quake rumbled through the same area Thursday.
    
Wednesday's quake was so severe it shook buildings hundreds of miles away in Singapore and Malaysia.
    
Many roads have been severed and communications and power cut off to some of the areas hit worst.
    
Most of the damage has centered on the provinces of West Sumatra, Jakarta and North Sumatra.

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Paul Strand

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As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.