Earthquakes Strike Indonesia

Strong earthquakes shook western and eastern Indonesia, sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes. One of the tremors shook telephone and electricity poles and forced the evacuation of a hospital.

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck waters off Sumatra island early and was followed 13 hours later by a quake with a preliminary strength of 6.7 on Sumbawa island, to the west, the US Geological Survey said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The morning temblor rattled residents in Bengkulu, a coastal town 175 kilometres from its centre. The region has been hit by a series of strong earthquakes and aftershocks in recent months, putting many on edge.

“It was very strong even utility poles were shaking,” said Dina Ramadani, adding that people started screaming after one pole toppled over and crashed into a street.

Some ran to high ground, fearing a tsunami, and officials at one hospital in Jambi province told all patients to temporarily leave the building, treating some outside.

The late-night quake struck 44 kilometres from the town of Raba at a depth of 30 kilometres, the USGS reported. Local officials said they had no immediate reports about damage.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheavals 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 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.