Indonesia Issues, Then Revokes Tsunami Warning After M7.8 Quake Near Sumatra

A USGS map showing the location of the M7.9 earthquake (large red dot) near Sumatra, Indonesia. Source: USGS

A USGS map showing the location of the M7.9 earthquake (large red dot) near Sumatra, Indonesia. Source: USGS

9.35 pm Tsunami alerts issued by the Australian government for its Cocos Islands and Christmas Islands have also been cancelled, even as the Indian government announced that its coasts weren’t threatened.

8.07 pm The USGS has revised the quake’s strength to 7.8 as well as brought the epicentre’s location down to 24 km, 14 km lower than reported in its initial announcements.

8.02 pm Initial reports of deaths have been emerging, according to Reuters, and relief operations could be hampered by darkening skies.

7.57 pm Tsunami warnings are still in place for the Christmas Islands and Cocos Islands, both Australian territories in the Indian Ocean and just south and southwest of Sumatra, respectively.

7.49 pm Local TV channels in Indonesia are reporting that the tsunami warning has been lifted.

7.43 pm Thailand, which had earlier issued a tsunami warning, has revoked it.

7.39 pm Australia has cancelled the tsunami warning for its western coast while Indonesia’s warning will continue to stay for the hour (at least). And while Sri Lanka hasn’t issued any warnings yet, it has been monitoring the situation. On a separate note, Indonesian President Joko Widodo was reported to be staying at a hotel in North Sumatra at the time of the quake, and was safe.

7.36 pm

7.30 pm According to Channel News Asia, people in Singapore also reported sensing tremors.

7.27 pm On March 2, an earthquake of magnitude 7.9 struck 10 808 km southwest of Padang, in the Indonesian archipelago. The epicentre was located at a depth of 10 km – considered shallow and so more dangerous – while the country issued a tsunami warning for West and North Sumatra and Aceh provinces. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has also issued tsunami warning for its western coast, including for the city of Perth, and asked people to stay away from waterfronts.

The US Geological Survey had estimated the quake to measure M8.2, subsequently downgrading it to 8.1 and then to the current 7.9. The magnitude is worrisome because Indonesia – together with a belt of southeast Asian coastal states – suffered great casualties after the 2004 quake, which measured M9.1. However, earthquakes as such are frequent around the archipelago because it is situated close to the Pacific Ring of Fire, the geographic zone where multiple tectonic plates interact to move land.

No immediate reports of casualties or damage were available.