Indonesia: 6.4 magnitude earthquake shakes Sumatra

Sunday, May 18, 2014

ACEH, Indonesia - A 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook parts of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Sunday, residents of Aceh Jaya and Meulaboh running from their homes.

According to reports, the epicenter was in the ocean around 342 kilometers (212.5 miles) southwest of coastal city Banda Aceh at a depth of 15 kilometers.

Aceh Jaya and Meulaboh were two of the areas hardest hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which in Meulaboh alone left around a third of the 120,000 population dead.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the head of Data Information and Public Relations at the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BPBD), said in a statement that there was no danger of a tsunami.

"Based on maps, the seismic intensity was at a scale of III-IV MMI [moderate]. There have been no reports of damage to buildings, but BPBD is still checking. Conditions remain normal."

In 2004, tens of thousands died in Sumatra -- and around 230,000 lost their lives in a dozen other countries -- when a quake off Banda Aceh's coast triggered a tsunami. In 2009, a tremor in the region killed more than 1,000, an 8.5-magnitude quake killed five people in 2012, while a magnitude 6.1 tremor again struck Aceh province in 2013 killing around 35 people.

Earthquakes are common in Sumatra as it lies at a convergent boundary of the Sunda Plate and Indo-Australian Plate. 

"We ask the public to remain vigilant," said Nugroho. "Earthquakes occur suddenly. In the event of an earthquake get out of buildings as soon as possible and gather in a safe place."

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