Date
29 March 2017
Patients and relatives gather outside a hospital in Sumatra after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia. Photo: AFP
Patients and relatives gather outside a hospital in Sumatra after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia. Photo: AFP

Powerful earthquake rocks Indonesia

A tsunami warning went up in Indonesia after a powerful, shallow earthquake struck off its southwestern coast Wednesday, sending residents scampering to higher ground.

The alert was subsequently lifted, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was of a magnitude of 7.8 and was centered under the ocean at a depth of 15 miles.

Shallow earthquakes are more likely to cause damage, but the USGS said the quake was located far from land, about 409 miles from the town of Muara Siberut.

Andi Eka Sakya, head of Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

“I think its potential for a tsunami is very small,” because the quake didn’t occur along a major fault known as a subduction zone, he told TVOne.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basin.

A powerful magnitude 9.1 quake off Indonesia in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Most of the deaths were in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Sumatra.

Marjina, a resident of Sikakap in the Mentawai islands, about 430 miles from the epicenter, said the quake was felt only weakly there, but the tsunami warning caused panic among villagers, who ran to higher ground.

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