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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Powerful Indonesian Quake Kills, Tears Down Buildings

PADANG, Indonesia -- A powerful earthquake crumpled houses across a large swath of western Indonesia on Tuesday, killing at least 70 people and injuring hundreds, authorities said, predicting that the toll would rise.

The magnitude 6.3 temblor struck on Sumatra island and was felt as far away as neighboring Malaysia and Singapore, where some tall buildings were evacuated. It was followed by several strong aftershocks.

"Women were crying out in terror. We all just fled as quickly as we could," said Alpion, a welder in the seaside town of Padang. Along with thousands of others, he was running to higher ground, fearing a tsunami that never came.

Indonesia straddles one of the world's most seismically violent zones and has been hit by a string of natural disaster in recent years, the most deadly being the 2004 Asian tsunami that killed 160,000 people on Sumatra's northern tip.

Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi told reporters in the capital of Jakarta that at least 70 people had been killed by the quake, which hit the island's western coast. The worst-affected area appeared to be Solok, a bustling town close to the epicenter where two children were killed by falling debris on a school playground.

Dozens of buildings had been destroyed and hundreds others damaged, local police chief Lieutenant Colonel Budi Sarwono said. Television footage showed a flattened three-story home and thick cracks in the road.

Hospitals were overflowing with patients, many of them with broken bones and cuts. Scores were laid out on cots on a soccer pitch in the town, where they were given emergency care, Sarwono said.

"So far, we have recovered 19 bodies and hundreds of injured people," he said. "The two hospitals are overwhelmed with victims."

At one hospital in nearby Padang, panicked doctors and nurses fled into the street, startled patients limping behind, Metro TV showed.

A witness in the town of Payahkumbuh said several two-story shops in the main street had collapsed and that police and soldiers were digging for survivors.