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Strong quake rocks Indonesia's Sumatra

world Updated: Jan 04, 2008 12:13 IST
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A strong offshore earthquake registering 6.3 on the Richter scale hit the east coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Friday, causing people to flee from their homes, the meteorological agency and a resident said.

The earthquake hit at 2:29 pm local time (0729 GMT) and was centred 75 kilometres (47 miles) southwest of Mukomuko town in Bengkulu province under the floor of the Indian Ocean, the Indonesian Meteorological Agency said in a statement.

Silahuddin, a resident of Mukomuko, told Elshinta radio that the quake was felt very strongly in the town, with crockery falling from shelves in homes, but no damage to houses was immediately apparent.

"People ran out from their houses. Thankfully it happened during the day so people are not panicking. We have had (quake) simulations before," he said.

The quake occurred at a depth of 10 kilometres, but agency official Suharjono told Elshinta that it was not powerful enough to generate a tsunami.

The United States Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude of 5.9 and estimated its depth at 35 kilometres.

Bengkulu province was hit last September by a massive 8.4-magnitude quake and a multitude of aftershocks that left 23 people dead.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where the meeting of continental plates means seismic activity is common.

A geographical faultline runs parallel to Sumatra and tectonic activities along it have repeatedly led to strong earthquakes.