Indonesian quakes trigger tsunami alerts

By ANTHONY DEUTSCH, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 12 minutes ago

PADANG, Indonesia – Three powerful earthquakes jolted Indonesia in less than 24 hours, triggering tsunami alerts Thursday and sending panicked residents fleeing to high ground. At least nine people were killed in the tremors.

The first two quakes in western Indonesia — magnitudes 8.4 and 7.8 — were followed by a 6.2-magnitude temblor in the east, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The largest spawned nearly 10-foot-high waves on Sumatra island Wednesday, and the other two triggered tsunami alerts Thursday, Indonesia’s meteorological agency said. The alerts were later lifted.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.

Wednesday’s quake triggered a nearly 10-foot wave that slammed into at least one village on Sumatra, the island that was ravaged in 2004. Smaller waves were recorded further down the coast.

Rukhlan, a 43-year-old fisherman, said residents in Muara Maras were horrified Wednesday when they saw the ocean retreat and then fire back to shore.

“I heard people screaming and yelling tsunami … tsunami!” he said, adding that the water flooded the village and damaged dozens of homes. “Then I ran to find my children, but they had already run to the hills.”

Two other powerful tremors followed on Thursday in western and eastern Indonesia. The third quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, struck off Sulawesi island — a different fault line.

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Russia tests ‘world’s most powerful vacuum bomb’

September 12, 2007 – 1:35PM

The test of the huge vacuum bomb is shown in this undated television image shown by Russian Channel One. Inset, the bomb before the blast. television.The test of the huge vacuum bomb is shown in this undated television image shown by Russian Channel One. Inset, the bomb before the blast. television.

Russia has tested the world’s most powerful vacuum bomb, which unleashes a destructive shockwave with the power of a nuclear blast, the military said today, dubbing it the “father of all bombs”.

The bomb is the latest in a series of new Russian weapons and policy moves as President Vladimir Putin tries to reassert Moscow’s role on the international stage.

The report said the new bomb was much stronger than the US-built Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb – MOAB, also known under its name “Mother of All Bombs”.

“So, Russian designers called the new weapon ‘Father of All Bombs’,” it said.

“Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon,” Alexander Rukshin, Russian deputy armed forces chief of staff, told Russia’s state ORT First Channel television. The same report was later shown on the state-sponsored Vesti channel.

“You will now see it in action, the bomb which has no match in the world is being tested at a military site.”

It showed a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber dropping the bomb over a testing ground. A large explosion followed.

Pictures showed what looked like a flattened multi-storey block of flats surrounded by scorched soil and boulders. “The soil looks like a lunar landscape,” the report said.

“The defence ministry stresses this military invention does not contradict a single international treaty. Russia is not unleashing a new arms race.”

Such devices generally detonate in two stages. First a small blast disperses a main load of explosive material into a cloud, which then either spontaneously ignites in air or is set off by a second charge.

This explosion generates a pressure wave that reaches much further than that from a conventional explosive. The consumption of gases in the blast also generates a partial vacuum that can compound damage and injuries caused by the explosion itself.

“The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature, ” the reports said. “All that is alive merely evaporates.”

Rukshin said: “At the same time, I want to stress that the action of this weapon does not contaminate the environment, in contrast to a nuclear one.”

The Tu-160 supersonic bomber that dropped the bomb, widely known under its NATO nickname of “Blackjack“, is the heaviest combat aircraft ever built. Putin, who has overseen the roll-out of new tactical and anti-aircraft missiles and combat aircraft, has ordered “Blackjacks” and the Tu-95 “Bear” bombers to patrol around the world.

Showing the orange-painted US prototype, the report said the Russian bomb was four times more powerful – 44 tonnes of TNT equivalent – and the temperature at the epicentre of its blast was two times higher.

In 1999 Russian generals threatened to use vacuum bombs to wipe out rebels from the mountains during the “anti-terrorist operation” in its restive Chechnya province.

New York-based Human Rights Watch then appealed to Putin to refrain from using fuel-air explosives. It remains unclear if weapons of this type were used during the Chechen war.

US forces have used a “thermobaric” bomb, which works on similar principles, in their campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

“It (the bomb) will allow us to safeguard our state’s security and fight international terrorism in any circumstances and in any part of the world,” Rukshin said.


“Abdullah Gul in the third round obtained an absolute majority and was elected the 11th president of Turkey with 339 votes,” parliament speaker Koksal Toptan said after the vote, reported Reuters.

ImageThe other two contenders, Sabahattin Cakmakoglu from the right-wing Nationalist Action Party and Tayfun Icli from the center-left Democratic Left Party, got 70 and 13 votes respectively.

The Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) has 341 seats in the 550-seat parliament.

Gul, a gently spoken diplomat and an architect of Turkey’s European Union membership bid, needed a simple majority of 276 votes to win in the decisive third round ballot.

The new president is set to be sworn in at parliament at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) before he formally takes over from outgoing President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in a ceremony closed to the press at 7:30 pm (1630 GMT).

Gul’s election came after a four-month-long political crisis when the secularist elite, including the powerful army generals, derailed his first bid.

The AKP government pushed for early elections and came out stronger, increasing its share in the legislature.

In Turkey, the government holds most power but the president can veto laws, veto appointments of officials, appoint judges and is commander in chief of the military.

No Hijab Problem

Hours before his election, a new poll showed that nearly three quarters of Turks have no problem with a hijab-clad first lady, the main argument of Gul’s opponents.

The survey, conducted by the respected Konda company for the Milliyet newspaper, showed that 72.6 percent of those polled would view it as “normal” if the wife of the president wore a hijab.

Gul’s presidential bid has sparked objections by secularist that his election would bring the first veiled first lady to the Cankaya presidential palace since the creation of the modern Turkish state.

The headscarf, an obligatory code of dress in Islam, is banned in government offices and universities.

Secularists see it as a threat to the ideology of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who threw religion out of public life as he rebuilt Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire.

Gul’s wife, Hayrunisa Ozyurt, has commissioned an international fashion designer, who left his touches on the wardrobes of Hollywood superstars and wives of European politicians, to come up with a new style for her hijab.


Political analysts warned that Gul would faces many daunting challenges in this new post, mainly striking a balance between the state institutions, run by AKP, and the military institution.

“Gul will not have an easy start,” the popular Vatan newspaper said.

“His every step… will be under scrutiny by institutions and sections of society who are sensitive on secularism.

“Gul will need to be careful and make efforts to calm them.”

Opponents fear that Gul, who has Islamic roots, would undermine the secular feature of Turkey.

The head of the powerful army, which toppled four government since 1960, warned a day earlier that “centers of evil” are seeking to systematically erode the secular system.

“The Turkish Armed Forces will not make any concessions…in its duty of guarding the Turkish Republic, a secular and social state based on the rule of law,” Yasar Buyukanit said in a written message. ( & News Agencies) – mr

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