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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Magnitude 7.8 Earthquake Strikes Off Sumatra

Casualty and damage reports still coming in    

AGENCIES
03/03/2016

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Indonesia, killing an unconfirmed number of people. The country has issued a tsunami warning, the National Meteorological Agency reported.


A man pushes a relative who lies on a hospital 
bed as they were told to leave the building
following an earthquake, at a hospital in 
Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, 
March 2, 2016
The shallow quake led to multiple deaths, according to Indonesia's search and rescue agency.

"There are some who have died," said Heronimus Guru, the agency's deputy head of operations, as quoted by Reuters. He declined to provide further information.

"The earthquake was felt in a big part of West Sumatra cities and Mentawai," said West Sumatra governor Irwan Prayitno to Kompas TV.

"We continue to remind residents to be careful and be on standby, but at this point, the possibility of a tsunami is smaller as compared to much earlier, about an hour ago when the quake first occurred."


Almost 1,000 Mentawai residents were at a tsunami evacuation shelter as of 9.30pm Singapore time.

Meanwhile, the coastal waters of Meulaboh in western Aceh were reported to have suddenly receded, sparking fear that a tsunami was developing.

President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan in North Sumatra and was safe, palace officials said. A Medan resident said he didn't feel the quake. 

The shallow quake, which hit southwest of the island of Sumatra on Wednesday, had a depth of 24 kilometers (15 miles). The epicenter was located 808 kilometers (502 miles) southwest of Padang.




Scores of residents in Padang in West Sumatra are fleeing to higher ground and designated 'green' zones. Traffic jams can be seen across Padang's main thoroughfares.

Congestion has been reported across Andalas' main road, and crowds of frightened locals can be seen moving towards the Padang's bypass road towards Limau Manis - which is a green zone that is located quite high and away from the shoreline. Some families fled on foot, while others ride pick-up trucks towards higher grounds. Many residents sought refuge in mosques - as evidenced by crowded mosques along Jalan Andalas and Jalan Mohammad Hatta.

Werni, a 45-year old resident, said that she took her kids and relatives towards the 'green' zone in Sawahan through Andalas - a 2 kilometer trip that they did on foot, while carrying bags of their belongings. "The quake was so strong and the vibrations can be felt for quite a while," said Werni at a mosque in Andalas, Padang, on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.




Previously, the Head of Padang Panjang's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Geophysics Station, Rahmat Triyono, that the earthquake was felt across West Sumatra, as well as across Bengkulu, and Sibolga, in North Sumatra. "It measured III to IV on the Modified Mercalli Scale (MMI) in Padang Panjang - it must register far higher up on the MMI scale in Mentawai," he said.

According to the register at Padang Panjang's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Geophysics Station, the epicentre of the quake is located 682 kilometres Southwest of the Mentawai Islands. "The epicentre is at a depth of 10 km, and has a tsunami potential," said Rahmat.
The USGS originally categorized the quake as a magnitude 8.2, and later an 8.1 and a 7.9, before lowering it to a 7.8.


Panicked residents flee to green zone 

Indonesia has issued a tsunami warning for West Sumatra, North Sumatra, and Aceh, according to the National Meteorological Agency. 

A tsunami watch was also issued for parts of Australia's western coast, but has since been canceled. 

TREMORS FELT IN SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA

Residents in Singapore reported feeling tremors in areas including Bishan, East Coast, Sengkang and Ang Mo Kio. However, Singapore is unlikely to be affected by the earthquake, said the National Environment Agency.

A Katong resident, who only wanted to be identified as Ms Amanda, said she felt tremors from her 12th-floor apartment shortly after the quake struck, at 9.05pm. 

“I was lying down reading a book when suddenly I felt like the ground was moving side to side. I thought I was feeling tired, but my mum saw our lamps outside shaking, so we decided to evacuate,” she told Channel NewsAsia. 

Amanda said there were about 15 residents gathered downstairs of her condominium. Her family of six stayed at the ground floor for about half an hour. 

“We live quite high up, and we have two dining lamps which won’t shake if it’s just (strong) wind. It’s happened before during an earthquake as well,” said Ms Amanda of her family’s decision to self-evacuate from their apartment. 

They eventually returned to their home at 9.30pm. “We just wanted to be safe first. We headed downstairs and saw other people, so that confirmed it,” she said. 

"I could feel my bed moving and I saw the wind chimes swaying even though my windows were shut. I suspected it's tremor from a quake in a neighboring country because this was what happened some years back during the Sumatra earthquake," W. Ong, who lives in Sengkang, told the agency.

In 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck 160 kilometers (99 miles) off the western coast of northern Sumatra, resulting in a tsunami. A total of 230,000 people were killed across a dozen countries, including Thailand. The disaster killed 126,741 people in the Indonesian province of Aceh alone.

Indonesia straddles the so-called 'Pacific Ring of Fire,' a highly seismically active zone where neighboring tectonic plates violently clash, resulting in a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

A massive 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.



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