Tsunami warnings lifted after 7.9 earthquake off coast of Indonesia

A tsunami warning has been lifted just hours after a powerful earthquake struck off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Chaotic traffic is seen on a street following a strong earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Photo / AP
Chaotic traffic is seen on a street following a strong earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Photo / AP

The US Geological Service said the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9. It was centred under the ocean at a depth of 10km. The USGS originally put the magnitude at 8.2 and then 8.1, before lowering it to 7.9.

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The New York Times quoted an official at the National Search and Rescue Agency who said there were no known deaths from the earthquake and no reports of significant damage, despite some earlier reports which said otherwise.

Al Jazeera reported that people ran from their homes in the immediate aftermath of the quake, fleeing to higher ground by motorbike, car and on foot.

It attributed this information to an AFP news agency reporter, who also told Al Jazeera that traffic had ground to a halt and that there was a sense of panic on the streets.

A man pushes a relative who lies on a hospital bed as they were told to leave the building following an earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.
A man pushes a relative who lies on a hospital bed as they were told to leave the building following an earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia.

Shallow earthquakes are more likely to cause damage, but the USGS said the quake was located quite far from land, about 662km from the city of Muara Siberut.

Indonesian officials had warned that the earthquake might trigger a tsunami but later lifted the warning.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology issued a marine warning for distant Cocos and Christmas islands. It also issued a watch alert for the country's west coast, but withdrew it shortly afterwards.

Patients return after temporarily left a hospital building following an earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Photo / AP
Patients return after temporarily left a hospital building following an earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Photo / AP

It did not advise evacuations, but said strong and dangerous currents were possible and people should secure boats and avoid waterfront areas. The warning noted that a tsunami had not been confirmed.

A powerful earthquake off Indonesia in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in a dozen countries.




- NZ Herald

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