Magnitude 7.8 Quake Off Indonesia

Magnitude 7.8 Quake Off IndonesiaMagnitude 7.8 Quake Off Indonesia

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami alert in a region where an undersea tremor killed hundreds of thousands in 2004.

The quake hit 804 kilometers southwest of Padang in Sumatra at a depth of about 15 miles, the US Geological Survey said. Tremors were felt in tall buildings in the capital Jakarta on Java island although residents in West Sumatran towns said the quake was lightly felt. Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency earlier reported the tremor at a magnitude of 8.3 Bloomberg reported.

People on the coast of Sumatra should move inland, Andi Eka Sakya, an official with Indonesia’s meteorology office, said on tvOne. President Joko Widodo was on the second day of a visit to Sumatra and is safe, according to Bey Machmudin, head of the palace press bureau. He is scheduled to return to Jakarta on Thursday.

Footage aired on the TVRI television channel showed Padang city in darkness as electricity was cut off. People were seen fleeing toward the east of city with roads congested.

Thailand issued a preliminary tsunami warning to six coastal provinces in the south after the quake, according to government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

A tsunami unleashed in 2004 by a 9.1-magnitude undersea earthquake off the Sumatran coast was the deadliest natural disaster this century, taking more than 220,000 lives and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless. Waves as high as 15 meters (50 feet) crashed into towns and shorelines across more than a dozen countries, destroying people’s livelihoods and possessions. Indonesia’s 18,000 islands sit along the Pacific’s “ring of fire” zone of active volcanoes and tectonic faults.

Sri Lanka’s Disaster Management Center said it was in touch with the local meteorological department regarding the quake, but hadn’t yet issued any tsunami warning.