Indonesia: Agency lifts tsunami warning after 7.8 magnitude earthquake

Antara 3 Mar 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The residents around Mentawai Island, West Sumatra are now safe after the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) officially lifted its Tsunami warning status, said the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

"The Agency (BNPB) received notification on the revocation of the tsunami warning status on Wednesday at 10:34 p.m. People can now return to their homes, do not be afraid as the condition is safe," said Sutopo in a statement received here on Wednesday night.

Sutopo said that his agency have received information from the BMKG about the potential of a tsunami threat caused by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday at 7:49:47 p.m.

"The occurrence of a tsunami was detected in Cocos Island as high as 10 centimeters at 9.15 p.m and in Padang as high as 5 centimeters at 9.40 .m," Sutopo said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agencys Command Post had been able to communicate with its regional office (BPBD) using radio communications to report the resident condition.

Based on information, the condition is safe and the people are already in safe places,

"People in Sikakap, South Pagai, Sipora, Siberut and other Mentawai Islands are in safe conditions and have taken refuge in high places," Sutopo added.

He said a number of areas that are also safe from a tsunami such as areas on the island and along the west coast of Sumatra in South Nias, Nias, Simeulue, Aceh Singkil, Aceh Barat, Muko-Muko, the area along North Sumatra coast, West Sumatra, Bengkulu and Lampung.

"No casualties or damage to buildings were reported. West Sumatra BMKG has lifted its tsunami warning for 15 surrounding areas since 9:30 p.m," noted Sutopo.

People in the city of Padang and in part of the west coast of Sumatra have responded to the tsunami warning by evacuating to tsunami shelters.

Previously, the mitigation agency has built a number of shelters that have been used for public evacuation.

In addition, people also used the roof tops of mosques, high buildings, schools and others.

Panic situation was experienced in several places which caused traffic congestion on the streets as many people were evacuating using their own vehicles.

"With the lifting of the tsunami warning, residents were asked to return home in an orderly manner. Do not be afraid. The most important thing is staying alert and following the officials direction," Sutopo said.(*)

8.3-magnitude quake rocks West Sumatra
Antara 2 Mar 16;

Padang, W Sumatra (ANTARA News) - A powerful earthquake of 8.3 magnitude rocked several parts of West Sumatra province on Wednesday at 07.49 p.m. local time.

The epicenter of the quake was located 5.61 degrees southern latitude and 94.05 degrees eastern longitude or 682 kilometers southwest of Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra, at a depth of 10 km, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said.
The quake had the potential to cause a tsunami, the agency said.

The (BMKG) has issued a tsunami early warning for the provinces of West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Aceh, Bengkulu and Lampung in the wake of the 8.3-magnitude earthquake.(*)

Powerful quake hits Mentawai, no casualties reported
Syofiardi Bachyul JB and Safrin La Batu, The Jakarta Post 3 Mar 16;

A powerful earthquake struck on Wednesday evening off the west coast of Sumatra Island, no fatalities were reported.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) initially said the quake measured 8.3 on the Richter scale before revising it downward to 7.8.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said earlier that the magnitude measured 8.2 on the Richter scale, then 8.1, before lowering it to 7.9.

The epicenter of the quake was located 808 kilometers southwest of Padang and was 10 km deep, the USGS said.

Mentawai, the regency closest to the epicenter and left devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake, was reported to have no damage.

Head of BMKG Padang Panjang Rahmat Triyono said that hundreds of people in the Mentawai Islands and western coast of Sumatra rushed to find higher ground after it issued a tsunami warning. The warning was then lifted.

Bambang Sagurung, a resident of Siberut Island in Mentawai, said the quake was strong, but did not cause damage to his home.

“I was having dinner with my family, the water dispenser was shaking and then we got out the house. I felt another quake after the first one, and then we rushed toward the hill,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

Another resident of Siberut, Mariai, said a warning was placed for one-and-a-half hours after the 7.8-magnitude quake rocked the island.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said there had not been any reports of injuries or damage following the quake.

“We haven’t received any reports of injuries or damage. Based on the information that we have gathered, the tsunami warnings were issued in Aceh, Bengkulu and Lampung,” he said in a statement.

- See more at:

Strong quake hits off Sumatra, people rush to high ground
Ali Kotarumalos, Associated Press, Jakarta Post 2 Mar 16;

A powerful, shallow earthquake hit off the southwestern coast of Sumatra on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami warning that sent islanders rushing to high ground. An official said the potential for a tsunami was small.

The US Geological Service said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8. It was centered under the ocean at a depth of 24 kilometers, it said.

Shallow earthquakes are more likely to cause damage, but the USGS said the quake was located far from land, about 659 kilometers from the town of Muara Siberut.

Andi Eka Sakya, head of Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said there was only a small potential for a tsunami. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, he said.

"I think its potential for a tsunami is very small," because the quake didn't occur along a major fault known as a subduction zone, he told TVOne.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basin.

A massive magnitude-9.1 quake off Indonesia in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Indonesia's Aceh province on Sumatra.

Marjina, a resident of Sikakap in the Mentawai islands, about 690 kilometers from the epicenter, said the quake was felt only weakly there, but the tsunami warning caused panic among villagers, who ran to higher ground.

A resident of Siberut island, which is closest to the epicenter, said people evacuated to higher ground and were waiting for the tsunami warning to be lifted.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology issued a marine warning for the distant Cocos and Christmas islands. It did not advise evacuations, but said strong and dangerous currents were possible and people should secure boats and avoid waterfront areas. The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Center issued but then canceled a tsunami watch for Western Australia.

The Indian government issued a statement advising that no tsunami threat was posed for the Indian coast.

Indonesia, Australia issue tsunami warning after 7.9 magnitude quake off Sumatra
Indonesia issued a tsunami warning on Wednesday after a massive and shallow earthquake struck off the west coast of its island of Sumatra, a region devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami.
Channel NewsAsia 2 Mar 15;

JAKARTA: Indonesia issued a tsunami warning on Wednesday after a massive and shallow earthquake struck off the west coast of its island of Sumatra, a region devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami.

The warning was issued for West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Aceh after the quake of magnitude 7.9, the National Meteorological Agency said, but rescue efforts will be hampered by the darkness that falls early in the tropical archipelago.

The epicentre was 808 km (502 miles) southwest of Padang, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was 10 km (six miles) deep.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, but the shallower a quake, the more likely it is to cause damage. USGS originally put the magnitude at 8.2, and then 8.1, before lowering it to 7.9.

"So far there have been no reports (of damage) yet," Andi Eka Sakya, an official of the National Meteorological Agency, told TVOne. "In Bengkulu (on southwest coast of Sumatra) they didn't feel it at all."

President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan in North Sumatra and was safe, palace officials said. A Medan resident said he didn't feel the quake.

Neighbouring Australia issued a tsunami watch for parts of its western coast.

Indonesia, especially Aceh, was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

A 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) that crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries to wipe some communities off the map in seconds.

The disaster killed 126,741 people in Aceh alone.

Indonesia straddles the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth's crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

(Reporting by Randy Fabi; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

- Reuters

Indonesian tsunami warning buoys not working when quake hit
The national disaster agency said the process of confirming that a tsunami had not occurred was hindered because none of the country's 22 early-warning buoys were working.
Channel NewsAsia 3 Mar 16;

JAKARTA: A series of early-warning buoys deployed after a 2004 tsunami devastated parts of Indonesia's western Sumatra island were not working when a huge quake rocked the same area on Wednesday (Mar 3), an official said.

The 7.8 magnitude, shallow undersea quake hit late Wednesday off Sumatra, sending panicked residents fleeing for the hills and briefly triggering a tsunami alert. But a tsunami was not generated and there have been no reports of casualties or major damage, with life largely returning to normal in affected areas on Thursday.

However, the national disaster agency said the process of confirming that a tsunami had not occurred was hindered because none of the country's 22 early-warning buoys were working.

The early part of the warning process ran smoothly, with a tsunami alert quickly sent out to communities across Sumatra, which led to sirens sounding and people heading to higher ground.

But without the working buoys, which can detect changes in water movement and relay the data back to officials, it took authorities around three hours to confirm that destructive waves had not been generated and to call off the alert.

"The tsunami buoys have been damaged by vandalism, and a there is a lack of funds for maintenance," disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters.

"This situation makes it difficult to confirm whether a tsunami has occurred or not," he added.

The buoys were part of a sophisticated, multi-million-dollar warning system, constructed with help of foreign donors following the 2004 tsunami that occurred when a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck off Sumatra.

It sent a huge tsunami barrelling into Aceh province, on Sumatra's northern tip, and to countries around the Indian Ocean, leaving around 220,000 people dead.

A series of strong aftershocks continued to rock Sumatra Thursday but the Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency, which monitors earthquakes, urged people to remain calm.

"Based on data from these aftershocks we do not believe there will be an earthquake of greater strength," the agency said in a statement. Calm had returned to the city of Padang in western Sumatra, where the quake had been felt strongly.

A team of military personnel and search and rescue officials were also dispatched Thursday to the remote Mentawai Islands, the closest land to the epicentre, to check on communities that had not been contacted since the quake.

- AFP/yt

Quake reveals shelters lacking, radios broken
Syofiardi Bachyul JB, Hans Nicholas Jong and Ina Parlina, The Jakarta Post 4 Mar 16;

When an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the west coast of Sumatra on Wednesday night, thousands of residents of Sikakap district, Mentawai Islands, rushed to nearby hills.

Having learned from a devastating tsunami in 2010 and previous drills organized by the authorities, the residents took the prepared paths to higher ground located a kilometer from North Pagai beach.

Fortunately, the tremblor, slightly more intense but further from the islands than that of 2010, caused no damage or loss of life.

But fear remained after arriving at the hill as no shelter or telecommunication facilities to call for assistance were available.

“There was nothing up there. Everyone, including children and the elderly, had to stay there all night,” Sikakap district head Happy Nurdiana told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

She said the shelters that had been readied after the 2010 tsunami were unusable as were radio facilities that had been installed in 2007.

Mentawai Islands Disaster Management Agency head Elisa Siriparang also lamented the lack of communication facilities. “When the earthquake occurred, I was on a boat heading to Padang. My cell phone was functioning but I couldn’t reach anyone on site,” he said.

She added that several other facilities, including tsunami-warning sirens, were out of service.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basin.

A massive quake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale off the northern part of Aceh in 2004 triggered a tsunami that left 230,000 people dead in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Aceh.

Since then escalated preparation efforts for the mitigation of earthquakes and tsunamis had been made along the western coast of Sumatra.

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale off the coast of West Sumatra rocked the province in 2009, claiming at least 1,100 lives and injuring thousands more, although no tsunami occurred.

In 2010, a 7.7-magnitude quake caused a tsunami that swept away two villages in South and North Pagai islands, killing at least 23 and destroying hundreds of homes.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) located the epicenter of the quake 280 kilometers off Padang, the province’s capital, and 20 kilometers deep. Wednesday’s jolt was located 659 kilometers from Muara Siberut, a town in Mentawai, and was 24 kilometers deep.

Rapot Pardomuan, a local rights activist with the Alliance of Indigenous People (AMAN), said the earthquake should be a wake-up call for the central government and local authorities to better equip tsunami-prone areas. “The central government and local administrations must act,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government praised the preparedness of local residents.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said he believed people in Sumatra now had a better awareness about how to stay safe during natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and tsunamis, as a result of the experience of past disasters.

“Everyone is [now] aware; this is important,” Jokowi said on the sidelines of his visit to Medan, North Sumatra.

“What’s important is how people respond immediately by leaving houses and buildings to seek higher ground. And all of that was put into practice last night by the people in Mentawai Islands,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

But with the risk of tsunamis still endemic in the archipelago, Sutopo said the government needed to increase the budget for tsunami-mitigation efforts.
Earthquake record in Mentawai

* July 6, 2013: 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted the island and also felt in the Sumatra cities of Padang, Jambi and Bengkulu. No reports of damage or fatalities.

* Nov. 27, 2014: A 4.7-magnitude earthquake shook South Siberut Regency, Mentawai Islands. No reports of damage or fatalities.

* Dec. 18, 2014: A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the island again. No reports of damage or casualties.

* July 24, 2015: A 4.8-magnitude quake reported some 110 km west-southwest of Padang. No casuaties and damage were reported.

*Aug. 2, 2015: A 4.7-magnitude earthquake Mentawai again and was also felt in Padang and Painan. No casualties and damage were reported.

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