A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck inland near the western coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Friday, killing at least two people and causing tremors that were felt in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, officials and witnesses said.
The quake, which did not have the potential to cause a tsunami, caused residents to flee buildings in some areas including in the city of Padang in West Sumatra province and even triggered evacuations in Malaysia.
“We continue to monitor and advise people to remain on alert,” Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of Indonesia’s geophysics agency BMKG, told MetroTV. The agency initially put the magnitude at 6.2.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency chief Suharyanto said at least two people were killed and some buildings including a government office, homes and a bank sustained damage.
In West Pasaman, about 17 km (10.6 miles) from the epicentre, a hospital was evacuated and there was panic in some areas.
“People gathered outside their homes and workplaces. They were scared of the tremors. Cables were shaking,” said Frans Kiky Nainggolan, a shopkeeper living in Riau province.
In Malaysia, the fire department in the capital Kuala Lumpur said it received multiple calls on tremors felt in the city, though so far there had been no reports of injuries or structural damage.
“I felt the tremors for 1-2 minutes… We evacuated fast and others from another floor also,” Hilfa Akmal, a resident in Subang Jaya on Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts, told Reuters.
Singapore police said on Twitter authorities had received calls from people reporting tremors, though there were no reports of injuries.
Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes, straddling the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meets.
The fault along Sumatra island can be particularly dangerous and in 2009 an earthquake devastated parts of Padang and killed more than a thousand people.
In 2004, a massive 9.1 magnitude quake and a tsunami off Aceh Province on the northern tip of Sumatra killed 226,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries.
REUTERS | JAKARTA