Video: 7.5 magnitude quake strikes near Sumatra

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 10/25/2010 7:31:24 PM ET 2010-10-25T23:31:24

A powerful earthquake hit off western Indonesia late Monday, briefly triggering a tsunami warning that sent thousands of panicked residents fleeing to high ground. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The 7.7-magnitude temblor struck at a depth of 9 miles off Sumatra island, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

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Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency initially issued a tsunami warning, but ended it a short while later.

At least five towns in the provinces of Bengkulu and West Sumatra were badly jolted, officials and witnesses said, as were the nearby Mentawai islands.

"Every was running out of their houses," said Sofyan Alawi, a resident in the city of Padang, adding that roads leading to surrounding hills were quickly jammed with cars and motorcycles.

"We kept looking back to see if a wave was coming," said 28-year-old resident Ade Syahputra.

A 5.0-magnitude aftershock hit less than an hour after the original quake, and the region remained on alert for more jolts. A 6.1-magnitude aftershock hit at 2:37 a.m. (3:37 p.m. EDT, 1937 GMT), the U.S., Geological Survey reported. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties after the quake, said Ade Edward, a disaster management agency official, adding that the area was still on alert for more aftershocks.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

The city of Padang was badly shaken one year ago by a 7.6-magnitude quake that killed at least 700 people and flattened or severely damaged 180,000 buildings.

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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had said historical data suggested any wave the quake created would not be destructive, but did warn of local problems and the potential danger from strong or unusual coastal currents.

The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire.

Story: Indonesia warns volcano could erupt at any time

In December 2004, a tsunami caused by an earthquake of more than 9 magnitude off Sumatra killed more than 226,000 people. It was the deadliest tsunami on record.

The earthquake that hit Chile earlier this year had a magnitude of 8.8 and was strong enough that scientists said it may have changed the Earth's rotation , slightly shortening the length of a day.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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