Powerful quake strikes off Sumatra island


Jakarta : A powerful earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island Wednesday, toppling buildings and sparking panic among residents, officials and local television reports said.

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TV One channel said it had received information that several people had been killed in the capital of West Sumatra.

Three employees of a car showroom in Padang were trapped when the building collapsed, it said.

“We have received reports many buildings, including hotels, in Padang collapsed,” said Rachmat Priyono, an official at Indonesia’s National Meteorological and Geophysics Agency (BMG).

Telephone communications to Padang and nearby Pariaman district were cut following the quake, local residents told television reporters.

The quake struck at 5:16 p.m. at a depth of 71 km, about 57 km southwest of Pariaman in West Sumatra province,

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an Indian Ocean tsunami alert after the quake but later cancelled it.

A 6.2-magnitude aftershock followed the initial quake about 22 minutes later, BMG said in a statement.

The quake was also felt strongly in North Sumatra, Riau in eastern Sumatra as well as Bengkulu province in southern Sumatra, residents told Metro TV.

“People ran out of their houses in panic. Many are still outside,” a resident in North Sumatra told Metro TV.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, the edge of a tectonic plate prone to seismic upheaval.

A major earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck in December 2004, leaving more than 170,000 people dead or missing in Indonesia’s Aceh province and half a million people homeless.