Indonesia urges caution after 7.1-magnitude earthquake
Bangkok, Apr 25 (EFE).- Indonesian authorities on Tuesday urged the residents of Sumatra, the second most populated island in the country, to remain cautious as they returned to their houses after a 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked the region in the early hours of the day, triggering a tsunami warning which was later lifted.
Although no casualties have been reported, the strong tremors and subsequent aftershocks were felt across cities of West Sumatra, causing hundreds of citizens to flee their houses and take shelter on higher ground, according to preliminary reports by the regional disaster management agency
The earthquake was the strongest in the Mentawai islands – situated closest to the epicenter – where heavy tremors were felt for three to five seconds, triggering panic as people rushed out of their houses.
The Indonesian disaster management agency (BNPB) said in a statement that the majority of the residents in the area fled to secure places situated on higher ground, as the quake struck amid heavy rain and was followed by a power cut.
The earthquake, which struck at around 3 am, had its epicenter in the sea close to Sumatra at a depth of around 15 kilometers.
The authorities issued a tsunami alert which was lifted two hours later.
Despite no reports of deaths, injuries or significant material damage, authorities have urged the population to stay alert and raise their preparedness and vigilance over the possible consequences of the tremor.
The BNPB also urged locals to ensure that their emergency escape routes were not obstructed by large objects such as cupboards, tables or refrigerators.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area with high seismic and volcanic activity, where some 7,000 earthquakes are recorded every year, most of them of moderate intensity.
One of the most lethal catastrophes in Indonesia dates back to 2004, when a strong earthquake north of Sumatra Island triggered a tsunami that caused more than 226,000 deaths in some dozen countries in the Indian Ocean. EFE