UPDATE 5 – Powerful quake hits off Indonesia; tsunami warning lifted


Official tells Anadolu Agency small tsunami waves spotted, but now safe for locals to return home


By Ainur Rohmah

TUBAN, Indonesia – A powerful earthquake struck west of Indonesia’s Sumatra island Wednesday, resulting in a tsunami warning that was later lifted.

A National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, told Anadolu Agency that the quake happened at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) around 682 kilometers west of the Mentawai islands.

He later confirmed that the tsunami warning had been lifted.

“Because the warning has been lifted, people are able to come back to their houses calmly. Do not be scared. The condition is save now,” Nugroho told Anadolu Agency.

He said a 10-centimeter-high tsunami wave was spotted in Cocos island, southwest of Christmas Island, as well as a 5-centimeter-high wave off of West Sumatra’s provincial capital Padang.

The chief of the Agency for Meteorological, Climatological and Geophysics said the tremblor had a magnitude of 7.8 and urged citizens near coastal areas to stay away from the shore.

“We will keep updating the information. We keep on observing the height of [any] wave,” local television reported him saying.

The tsunami warning had been in effect for the provinces of West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Aceh, Bengkulu and Lampung.

West Sumatra’s governor, Irwan Prayitno, told TV One that the tremor was felt across most of the province.

The deputy of operation at the National Search and Rescue (SAR) Agency said teams were helping residents move to higher ground.

“We have contacted the SAR in Padang and some Mentawai islands, there are not serious reports of [damage],” detik.com quoted Heronimus Guru as saying.

“They [SAR teams] are still helping citizens. There are not yet reports about victims,” he said.

Indonesia lies within the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and cause frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck the eastern coast of Sumatra island, causing a tsunami that killed around 230,000 people as it tore along the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.