September 12, 2007 – SINGAPORE.
Tremors were felt in many parts of Singapore and scores of office workers fled from high-rise buildings soon after a powerful earthquake hit Sumatra, Indonesia on Wednesday, causing buildings to sway in the capital, and authorities issued a tsunami warning. The earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck at 6:10 pm (1110 GMT) in the sea some 100 km southwest of the city of Bengkulu, at a depth of roughly 15 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said. Tsunami alerts were issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for the entire Indian Ocean region following the quake, but Indonesia has since lifted the alerts, citing no threat of tsunamis.
The quake was strongly felt in the capital Jakarta, some 600 km away, with tall buildings swaying. Indonesia was the nation worst hit by the earthquake-triggered tsunami of December 2004, which killed some 168,000 people in Aceh province alone. The archipelago nation sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. Tremors were felt in many parts of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Many readers rang The Straits Times hotline to report that they felt their buildings swaying and high-rise residents fleeing from their offices and apartments in Marine Parade, Punggol, Serangoon and central Singapore. Some also reported cracks opening on the roads " My fish tank was shaking. The water spilled out," said Mr Lim who lives in Punggol. Mr Robert Chua said many of neighbours ran out from their flats in his block and gathered in the open.
Another office worker in Toa Payoh, Ms J.W Chen told The Straits Times: "I was standing and reading the newspapers when I started swaying and felt giddy. "Then I looked up and saw the big aircon duct moving. The light boxes and other air ducts and water pipes also swayed a few inches from their still position non-stop for a few minutes. My colleague and I didn’t want to wait and see, so we got into the lift and rushed out to the street across." Said Helan who works in Millenia Tower: "We feel our body swapping itself." An AsiaOne reader sent in this posting: "I am still at my office in Parkview Sqaure in Bugis. I felt the building swayed but I thought it was just me. My sister called me 20 minutes later and told me that Indonesia has been hit by a 7.9 magnitude quake. So that explained why I felt dizzy earlier. We are still working at our office here. Hopefully those people directly hit by the quake are safe."
Office workers evacuate their building in Jakarta, Indonesia, following an earthquake on Wednesday.
JAKARTA, Indonesia – A powerful earthquake shook Indonesia on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people, injuring 100 and triggering a small tsunami that hit one city on the island of Sumatra, authorities said.
The 8.2-magnitude quake off Sumatra badly damaged buildings along the coast and could be felt in at least four countries, with tall buildings swaying as far as 1,200 miles away.
It was followed by a series of aftershocks, the strongest of which registered at a magnitude of 6.6 and triggered a second tsunami alert for Indonesia, which was lifted about an hour later, said Suhardjono, an official with Indonesia’s meteorological agency, who goes by only one name.
At least 10 people were killed in three Sumatran towns. Phone lines and electricity also were cut. Most of the damage appeared to be from the quake.
A wave of up to 9 feet was reported to have struck the city of Padang about 20 minutes after the initial quake, Suhardjono said.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also reported that a small tsunami hit Padang.
Several buildings in Padang were damaged and at least one car showroom collapsed, according to the news Web site detik.com, which said people were searching to see if anyone was inside. It did not say whether the quake or wave caused the damage. Suhardjono said communication with the area was difficult.
At least one person was killed and dozens injured in Bengkulu, the town closest to the epicenter, local government official Salamun Harius told El Shinta radio. At least 100 others were hospitalized, senior Health Ministry official Rustam Pakaya said.
People ran inland
Residents in Bengkulu, where at least one building was demolished, said the quake triggered panic and that people ran inland.
“Everyone is running out of their houses in every direction,” said Wati Said, who spoke by cell phone standing outside her house. “We think our neighborhood is high enough. God willing, if the water comes, it will not touch us here.”
“Communication is cut, we can’t call out,” she added. “I don’t know how you contacted us. Everyone is afraid.”
The quake could be felt in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, 375 miles away, where office workers streamed down the stairwells of tall, swaying buildings. It also caused tall buildings to sway in neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
The undersea quake hit at about 7:10 a.m. ET, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 80 miles southwest of Sumatra island at a depth of 18.6 miles.
“Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean Basin,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, warning that waves could hit Indonesia and Australia within an hour, and Sri Lanka and India within three hours.
Tsunami alert lifted
It lifted the alert for Indonesia about two hours later, saying there was no longer a potential for a destructive wave.
An official with Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Center, Passakorn Khanthasap, said it had sent cell phone text messages alerting hundreds of officials in six southern provinces.
The Kenyan government issued a tsunami warning and told people to leave beaches.
In India, officials said nothing was felt in the remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, some of which are just 150 miles north of Sumatra.
The Indian government issued a tsunami alert for the islands, and officials were telling local authorities to take precautions, said Dharam Pal, the regional relief commissioner.
In Australia, the tsunami warning was lifted after only small rises in the sea level were measured at Cocos Island and the Christmas Islands. But officials warned residents to stay away from the ocean, warning that dangerous waves and currents could still affect beaches, harbors and rivers for several hours.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.
Watch Video report from Indonesia, click HERE. (in Indonesian language)
For MSNBC Video on this quake, click HERE.