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LEAD: M5.9 aftershock jolts tsunami-hit Aceh.

JAKARTA, Jan. 1 Kyodo


An aftershock measuring 5.9 on the open-ended Richter scale on Saturday jolted tsunami-devastated Aceh Province in Indonesia's Sumatra Island, a government official said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the aftershock, the strongest since last Sunday's magnitude 9.0 undersea quake off Aceh that triggered a deadly tsunami across the Indian Ocean.

Lukito, an analyst at the Jakarta-based Meteorological and Geophysics Agency, told Kyodo News that the aftershock occurred at 1:25 p.m. It was focused 33 kilometers under the seabed 250 km southwest of Aceh's provincial capital Banda Aceh.

''It was the strongest among aftershocks after the Sunday earthquake,'' he said.

Earlier in the day, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake jolted Bengkulu Province, also on Sumatra Island, rattling jittery residents fearing a repeat of last weekend's devastating tsunami.

Suharto, another analyst at the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency, said the earthquake hit Bengkulu in southern Sumatra at 11:38 a.m. and lasted for 10 minutes.

The earthquake was focused 30 kilometers under the seabed, 60 kilometers south of the provincial capital of Bengkulu. Bengkulu is located about 630 km northwest of Jakarta. No tsunami warnings were issued.

Lukito said the Bengkulu earthquake was not an aftershock.

The Jakarta-based Elshinta radio network station reported from Bengkulu that the earthquake sent local residents into a panic.

Sumatra's northern provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra bore the brunt of the tsunami. Government officials say the Indonesian death toll may soar past 100,000.

Indonesia is prone to earthquakes as it is located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, which is one of the world's most geologically unstable zones.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Jan 10, 2005
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