The Indonesian island of Sumatra was struck with a massive quake on Wednesday, but the fear of another disaster was abated with the cancellation of tsunami warnings. Within two hours of the 7.8 magnitude tremor, Indonesian and Australian authorities called off their tsunami alerts.
A National Search and Rescue Agency official gave an initial report of some deaths, but later withdrew those comments. “Up until now, there is no information about deaths,” said Heronimus Guru, the agency’s deputy head of operations.
There were no immediate reports of damage, but the shallower a quake, the more dangerous it is. The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude at 8.2, revising it down to 7.8. The epicentre was 808 km (502 miles) southwest of the coastal city of Padang. It was 24 km (15 miles) deep, it said, after first putting its depth at 10 km.
President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan in North Sumatra and was safe, palace officials said
A 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) that crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries to wipe some communities off the map in seconds. Around 126,741 people in Aceh alone then.
Indonesia lies along the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.