Tsunami Fears Subside After Sumatra Quake

Banda Aceh, TAG. The powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Sumatra Island early on Wednesday was the strongest since the temblor that triggered the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, although no fatalities and no destructive swell were reported this time.

“The earthquake this morning was the most powerful one in the past five years since the devastating tsunami which was triggered by an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale on December 26, 2004,” Muhammad Nazar, Aceh’s deputy governor, said on Wednesday. 

While there were no deaths, at least 62 people were injured on Simeulue Island off Aceh’s west coast. Most were being treated at local hospitals. 

“Reports said that residents were hit by collapsed electricity poles, but this is not true. They would have died if that happened,” said Abdul Karim, a spokesman for Simeulue district. “There were collapsed poles, but that happened because some houses collapsed. The residents were hit by collapsing houses.” 

He said that two government buildings rebuilt by the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) after the tsunami in 2004 had been seriously damaged. 

Wednesday’s quake struck off the northwest coast of Sumatra at 5:15 a.m. at a depth of 46 km, according to the US Geological Survey. 

Indonesian geologists said it had a magnitude of 7.2 and the epicenter was 60 km southeast of Sinabang, Simeulue. At least 15 aftershocks were felt throughout Wednesday. 

According to Badrul Kamal, a geophysicist from Andalas University in Padang, the quake was a result of movement in the 700- km-long Mentawai patch, which in 2007 caused tremors of 8.4 and 7.8 in magnitude. 

Late last year, geologists warned that a massive undersea quake beneath the Mentawai Islands in West Sumatra was long overdue.
A tsunami alert was issued in Aceh and Thailand, although both were later canceled. Residents of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, said they felt the ground shake for about a minute and many fled their homes or piled onto motorcycles to head inland for fear of a destructive tsunami. 

Safnil, a village head on Banyak Island in Singkil district, south of Simeulue, said that about an hour after the quake hit, the sea rose by as much as 40 centimeters. Although no one was injured, the seawater flooded more than a thousand homes, he added.
“Residents who panicked fled to the hills and to safer areas,” Safnil said, adding that by the afternoon, many people were still yet to return to their homes. 

A one- to two-meter swell was also reported to have hit the coast of Simeulue. 

Meanwhile, North Sumatra was put on alert for possible temblors, especially in Nias, Sibolga and Tanjung Balai districts. 

In Jakarta, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the quick response to the quake in Aceh and North Sumatra was commendable. 

“I praise the Disaster Management Agency and Aceh and North Sumatra governments for their quick response to the earthquake,” he said at Halim Perdana Kusuma Air Force base before leaving for Vietnam for this week’s Asean summit. 

“I’m glad that the system ran well. The rapid assessment team was ready at Halim shortly after the quake happened.” 

Tsunami Fears Subside After Sumatra Quake Tsunami Fears Subside After Sumatra Quake Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 08, 2010 Rating: 5

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