Fearing tsunami after quake, Indonesia evacuates people

Jakarta, March 2 (IANS) Indonesian authorities issued the tsunami warning in Padang, capital of West Sumatra province, following a major earthquake which is feared to trigger tsunami.

The warning has prompted people to evacuate to higher ground, mobilizing their vehicles that have caused severe traffic jams in Padang, Indonesian state-run TV station TVRI reported.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) initially issued a notice for an earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale but later corrected it to 7.8.

The quake occurred at 07.49 p.m., 682 km west of the West Sumatra coast at a depth of 10 km below the sea surface on Wednesday.

Hermis, a BNPB official stationed in West Sumatra, said the evacuation was prioritised for those staying in the coastal areas.

Local authorities assigned vehicles to evacuate residents to shelters provided by the government.

The official said immediate evacuation was necessary to save lives from tsunami.

“Tsunami wave would come 20 to 30 minutes after the earthquake, ” he said.

Warnings were continuously broadcast through local TV and radio channels as well as through mobile phone messages sent by BNPB offices.

West Sumatra Governor Irwan Prayitno said public facilities, like tap water and electricity, have yet to be cut. People were told to stay away from the coast.

He said if tsunami takes place, it may affect provinces including West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Aceh, Bengkulu and Lampung.

West Sumatra saw a severe earthquake followed by tsunami in October 2010, claiming more than 450 lives in the province’s Mentawai isles, a popular surfing area.

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