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Strong 7.5-magnitude quake hits Sumatra

A strong 7.5-magnitude quake struck Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday, sparking a local tsunami alert and triggering panic, US meteorologists and residents said.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Jakarta
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2008 08:54 PM IST

A strong 7.5-magnitude quake struck Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday, sparking a local tsunami alert and triggering panic, US meteorologists and residents said.

The US Geological Survey said the undersea quake struck at 3:08 pm (1338 IST) some 312 kilometres (194 miles) west-southwest of the North Sumatra capital Medan, at a depth of 34 kilometres.

Indonesia's meteorological agency, which put the magnitude of the quake at 6.6, said it struck 42 kilometres northwest of the town of Sinabang, the main town on Simeulue island, in Aceh province.

A 5.5-magnitude aftershock hit shortly afterwards, it said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a local watch bulletin, saying there was no threat of a "destructive widespread tsunami" but that a local tsunami could affect coastal areas within a 100-kilometre radius.

Jakarta telephone operators could not immediately put through calls to the island.

The meteorology office's Suharjono told ElShinta radio that there were no immediate reports of damage from the quake.

However, he said, "the possibility of damage is there... in Sinabang, the possibility of damage exists."

An AFP correspondent in the Aceh capital of Banda Aceh said the quake was felt there for about two minutes.

People initially ran outside in panic, but quickly calmed down, the reporter said.

Elshinta radio also quoted listeners as saying panic had hit the population in North Sumatra's capital of Medan, where people also rushed out of buildings.

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