Quake Rattles Sumatra, Triggers Tsunami Warning

An earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra badly damaged buildings along the coast, killing several people and triggering tsunami warnings for much of the Indian Ocean region.

Magnitude 8.4 Quake Strikes Indonesia

A massive 8.4-magnitude earthquake shook Indonesia on Wednesday, killing at least 2 people, injuring 100 and triggering a small tsunami that washed ashore on the island of Sumatra, officials said.

The undersea quake, which struck Wednesday evening local time off Sumatra, badly damaged coastal structures near the epicenter. It could be felt in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, 375 miles away, where office workers fled swaying buildings.

It also caused tall buildings to sway in neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

A wave of several feet was reported to have struck the city of Padang, about 20 minutes after the initial quake, said Suhardjono, an official with Indonesia's meteorological agency, who goes by only one name. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also reported that a small tsunami hit Padang.

The initial earthquake was followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, the strongest of which registered at a magnitude of 6.6 and triggered a second tsunami alert for Indonesia, the meteorological agency reported.

Several buildings in Padang were damaged and at least one car showroom collapsed, according to detik.com, which said people were searching to see whether anyone was inside. It did not say whether the quake or wave caused the damage. Suhardjono said communication with the area was difficult.

At least one death came in Bengkulu, the town closest to the epicenter, local government official Salamun Harius told El Shinta radio. At least 100 others were hospitalized there, senior Health Ministry official Rustam Pakaya said.

Residents in Bengkulu, where at least one building was demolished, said the quake triggered panic and that people ran inland.

"Everyone is running out of their houses in every direction," said Wati Said, who spoke to The Associated Press by cell phone near her home.

"Communication is cut, we can't call out," she added. "I don't know how you contacted us. Everyone is afraid."

The quake hit at about 6:10 p.m. (7:10 a.m. EDT), the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 80 miles southwest of Sumatra island at a depth of 18.6 miles.

An official with Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center, Passakorn Khanthasap, said it had sent cell phone text messages alerting hundreds of officials in six southern provinces.

The Kenyan government issued a tsunami warning and told people to leave beaches.

In India, officials said nothing was felt in the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, some of which are just 150 miles north of Sumatra.

The Indian government issued a tsunami alert for the islands, and officials were telling local authorities to take precautions, said Dharam Pal, the regional relief commissioner.

In Australia, the tsunami warning was lifted after only small rises in the sea level were measured at Cocos Island and the Christmas Islands. But officials warned residents to stay away from the ocean, warning that dangerous waves and currents could still affect beaches, harbors and rivers for several hours.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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