On Tuesday (Apr 25), Indonesia authorities advised people to be cautious as they gradually returned to their homes in western Sumatra following a magnitude 7.3 earthquake and several aftershocks that caused panic among residents.
The earthquake occurred in the sea around 3 am, and authorities released a tsunami warning, which they later lifted after two hours.
As the tsunami warning sirens blared, residents of Padang, a city on the west coast of Sumatra, panicked and were forced to evacuate to higher ground . This was in the middle of the night.”We ran because we heard of the tsunami. I took only my family; we didn’t carry anything else,” said Hendra, a Padang resident, while at an evacuation zone.
The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) earlier pegged the quake at 6.9 magnitude.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency said authorities were collecting data from the islands nearest the epicentre off the western shore of Sumatra, spokesperson Abdul Muhari said.
Abdul, who was in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra, stated that he strongly felt the quake, and some people moved away from the beaches.
“People left their homes. Some were panicking but under control. Currently some of them are evacuating away from the sea,” he said, adding he had seen no damage so far.
Local news footage showed some Padang residents evacuating by motorbike and foot to higher ground. Some carried backpacks while others huddled together under an umbrella against the rain.
Informed TvOne, Noviandri, a local official, advised that individuals on Siberut island had already been evacuated.
The national disaster mitigation agency urged residents to stay alert and ensure that home exits remained unblocked in case people needed to rush outside again.
“Especially for people living in coastal areas, if there is an earthquake that lasts more than 30 seconds, please immediately go to a higher place to anticipate the possibility of a tsunami,” it said in a statement.
The agency said there were power outages in some parts of the Mentawai Islands, which were closest to the epicentre.
After the main quake, authorities recorded several aftershocks and reported that a tide gauge at Tana Bala island, located off the western Sumatra coast, registered an 11-centimetre increase in water levels.
In 2009, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit Padang and the West Sumatra province, claiming the lives of over 1,100 people, injuring numerous others, and causing widespread destruction.
Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes because it straddles the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active zone where different plates of the earth’s crust meet.