Indonesia: Powerful 7.9 Earthquake Strikes Off Sumatra

Indonesia: Powerful 7.9 Earthquake Strikes Off Sumatra

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off Indonesia’s island of Sumatra on Wednesday prompting a tsunami alert, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). 

Some people have died but it was not yet clear how many, an official of the country’s search and rescue agency told Reuters.

The quake struck at around 6.50pm local time (12.50GMT) and the USGS had originally categorized the quake as a magnitude 8.2.

The shallow quake had a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles).

The National Meteorolgical Agency reported that the country had issued a tsunami warning for parts of Sumatra, including West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Aceh, but some reports say this this has now been lifted.

The tremors could be felt in parts of Singapore, a witness told AFP, noting that the ground shook for about 15 seconds.

Sky News reports:

People ran out of their homes to higher ground.

Traffic ground to a halt and there was a sense of panic on the streets, the journalist said.

Around an hour later, it was reported by local channel TVRI that the warning had been cancelled.

Marjina, a resident of Sikakap in the Mentawai islands, about 720 kilometres (450 miles) from the quake’s epicentre, told Associated Press that it was felt weakly there, but the tsunami warning caused panic, sending villagers running to higher ground.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology issued a marine warning for distant Cocos and Christmas islands, saying strong and dangerous currents were possible and people should secure boats and avoid waterfront areas.

A tsunami watch was issued for parts of Western Australia but has since been cancelled.