Relaymedia

Indonesia Earthquake Update and Tsunami Warning: Magnitude-7.8 Quake Hit Off Coast Of Sumatra

( [email protected] ) Mar 02, 2016 02:13 PM EST
Just two hours after a massive quake struck off the island of Sumatra, residents of Australia and Indonesia breathed a sigh of relief as authorities lifted tsunami warnings.
Residents flee to higher ground after an earthquake struck off the west coast of Sumatra, in the city of Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Iggoy el Fitra/Antara Foto

Just two hours after a massive quake struck off the island of Sumatra, residents of Australia and Indonesia breathed a sigh of relief as authorities lifted tsunami warnings.

According to a report from Reuters, the magnitude-7.8 quake, which hit Wednesday morning, was centered in the Indian Ocean about 410 miles southwest of Muara Siberut and roughly 500 miles west-southwest of Padang, which is on the west coast of Sumatra, the Asian archipelago nation's largest island.

After initially noting a tsunami threat resulting from the quake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a U.S. government agency, lifted the warning, stating there had been "no tsunami observed."

"Therefore the community can return to their homes in peace," Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.. "There is nothing to fear and the condition is safe."

Sutopo said he had been in radio contact with national disaster management agency staff on Mentawai Island.

"Communities in Sikakap, South Pagai, Sipora, Siberut and other areas in Mentawai are safe and had been evacuated to higher ground," he said.

The U.S. Geological Survey indicated the earthquake struck 15 miles deep; however, as of Wednesday afternoon, it remained unclear if the quake had destroyed any buildings or killed people in Sumatra.

"So far there have been no reports (of damage)," Andi Eka Sakya, head of the National Meteorological Agency, told TV One. "In Bengkulu (in southwest Sumatra) they didn't feel it at all."

The Sydney Morning Herald notes that Indonesia had been braced for disaster after the tsunami warning was issued, as the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami - one of the deadliest natural disasters in history - also began with an earthquake off of Sumatra.

In Aceh alone, 126,741 people died after a 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean, triggering a wave as high as 57 feet that crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries to wipe some communities off the map in seconds.

On Wednesday morning, hundreds of people took to Twitter to extend prayers and well-wishes to those who may have been affected by the earthquake using the hashtag #PrayforIndonesia.

"Hope it's not a repeat of 2004 Boxing Day. #PrayforIndonesia," wrote one user.

"Pray for the safety of Indonesia, Dear Lord please shield its people and restore calmness in their hearts #PrayForIndonesia," tweeted another.

While initial reports suggest no severe damage has resulted from Wednesday's earthquake, authorities are still assessing the situation, and may not know the full extent of the damage until daybreak.