Tsunami Alert Lifted in Sumatra After 7.8 Earthquake

Thomas Depenbusch

Jakarta. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, has lifted the tsunami alert issued after a massive earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday (02/03) evening.

“It has been one hour and 45 minutes [after the earthquake] and there will probably be no tsunami,” BPNB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a phone interview with Kompas TV.

The Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) recorded a 7.8 magnitude earthquake at 7.49 p.m. in the Indian Ocean at a depth of 10 kilometers. The quake’s epicenter was 636 kilometers southwest off West Sumatra’s Mentawai Islands, which was devastated by a tsunami in 2010, killing 286 people with hundreds more missing.

Wednesday’s earthquake caused a panic among residents of Padang, West Sumatra, who were still traumatized by the 2009 earthquake which killed more than 1,000 people.

Residents living along Padang’s coast quickly scrambled out of their homes after the tsunami warning was first issued, witnesses reported. The rest fled to higher ground in their cars and motorcycles, some carrying their precious belongings, causing traffic mayhem.

“So farm there have been no reports [of damage],” Andi Eka Sakya, a BMKG, official told TVOne.

President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan, North Sumatra, at the time of the earthquake, and is reported to be safe, palace officials said.

Meanwhile, a resident of  Medan, North Sumatra, said he did not feel any tremors, despite a tsunami warning from the BMKG for the province.

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