An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 rocked the Indonesian island of Sumatra early Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
The quake struck at 5:15 a.m. local time. Its epicentre was 200 kilometres northwest of the coastal town of Sibolga and 1,425 kilometres northwest of the country's capital, Jakarta, the service said. It had earlier said the quake measured 7.8.
At least five aftershocks measuring up to a magnitude of 5.2 were recorded.
The quake sent residents in several cities along the southeastern coast of Sumatra, as well as Sinabang on Simeulue island and Gunung Sitoli on nearby Nias island, fleeing to higher ground.
Seventeen people, including four in critical condition, were taken to hospital in Sinabang on Simeulue island with injuries sustained when their homes collapsed, said Capt. Ajas Siagian, a deputy police chief for the area.
Abdul Karim, a government spokesman in Simeulue, said dozens of houses collapsed or were damaged in Teupah Selatan village. No larger buildings were reported damaged, but electricity had been knocked out on the island, he said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu issued a local tsunami watch for the region, but it has since been lifted.
Residents in Sibolga said the shaking, which lasted more than a minute and knocked down utility poles, was felt as far away as the outskirts of Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur about 515 kilometres away.
Japan's Kyodo news agency reported blackouts in Medan and Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province.
In December 2004, a 9.0 quake struck about 150 kilometres off the coast of Sumatra, causing a tsunami that killed an estimated 200,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless in a dozen countries on the Indian Ocean basin.
Source : cbc.ca
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