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Strong quake strikes off Indonesia's Sumatra

by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Oct 24, 2007
A strong earthquake measuring 7.0 struck off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island on Thursday, briefly triggering panic and a tsunami alert, the Indonesia meteorological agency said.

The quake struck in the Indian Ocean about 135 kilometres (84 miles) off the town of Bengkulu at 4:02 am (2102 GMT Wednesday), at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), the agency said.

The US Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.1.

The earthquake rattled the same area hit last month by a massive 8.4-magnitude quake and a multitude of aftershocks that left 23 people dead.

Bengkulu resident Titi Radiah told AFP that "everyone ran out of their houses."

"I was awakened by the jolt and ran out taking my baby," she said, adding that in her neighbourhood people stayed outside for about an hour before daring to return home.

She said there did not appear to be any damage in her area.

Bengkulu meteorology chief Suharjono told AFP that there were no immediate reports of damage.

"There have been no immediate reports of damage but judging from the scale it was felt in several of the towns closest to the centre," he said.

In the district town of Argamakmur, Emi, a woman working at the residence of the local district police chief, told AFP that some ceiling panels had fallen in the house but there did not appear to be damage in her neighbourhood.

The meteorology agency warned a tsunami could strike after the pre-dawn quake but lifted its alert about an hour later.

Tsunami alerts here are issued based on the likelihood of waves striking rather than a detected change in sea levels.

"Although the epicentre (of the quake) was just 10 kilometres below the surface, the distance of 166 kilometers from land was quite far and the (sea) waves caused" were not the kind that cause tsunamis, Sarjono said.

A nationwide tsunami warning system is still being installed across the Indonesian archipelago and a regional system is also under construction.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where continental plates meet and where earthquakes are a regular and often deadly occurrence.

About 168,000 people were killed in Aceh, the province at the tip of Sumatra island, when a massive quake and tsunami lashed countries around the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Indonesia was the country worst affected.

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Indonesian volcano eruption imminent: scientist
Blitar, Indonesia (AFP) Oct 24, 2007
A scientist warned on Wednesday that all indications pointed to the imminent eruption of a volcano on the Indonesian island of Java, despite it showing few obvious signs of activity.

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