Heavy earthquake hits Sumatra, Indonesia

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A heavy earthquake has struck near Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, the US Geological Survey reports. It had a magnitude of 7.7, although its original intensity was measured at 7.6.

Map indicating the intensity of the earthquake in the immediate vicinity. The star depicts the epicentre

According to the USGS, the tremor, which began at 05.15 local time (UTC 22.15 UTC) had a depth of 46 kilometres (28.6 miles) and was 230 kilometres (145 miles) southwest of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake was originally reported as having a magnitude of 7.6, but was later determined to be 7.8.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said that local tsunami watch was in place for Indonesia.

"A destructive widespread tsunami threat does not exist based on historical earthquake and tsunami data," although "there is the possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts", the centre said. According to the centre, any such tsunami would affect an area no further than 100 kilometers away from the location of the quake.

Geophysicist Gerard Fryer from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre commented that scientists are looking at data from buoys in the ocean to find out whether or not a wave was already generated; however, he said that if there was a tsunami in generated, it wouldn't move a lot of water due to the shallow waters.

There haven't been any reports of casualties or damage as of yet; however, witnesses on the Simeulue island reported that there were power outages, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The BBC also reported power outages in parts of Aceh province, on the northern end of the island of Sumatra.

This temblor is the heaviest to strike the region since March 2008.