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Quake strikes off Indonesia's Sumatra island

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake shook Indonesia’s northwest island of Sumatra early Wednesday, triggering a small tsunami, snapping power lines and sending panicked residents rushing for higher ground.

There were scattered reports of injuries, but only minor damage in most areas.

The quake struck at 5.15am (10.15pm GMT) and was centred undersea ,205km northwest of the coastal town of Sibolga in Sumatra at a depth of 31km, the US Geological Survey has said. It had earlier measured the quake at 7.8.

Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu issued tsunami warnings following the quake, but lifted them two hours later.

The meteorology agency said a minor tsunam,i that at its largest was about 400mm high ,hit Banyak island, Nias island and Sibolga.

Abdul Karim, a government spokesman in Simeulue, said dozens of houses collapsed or were damaged in Teupah Selatan village. He said no larger buildings were reported damaged, but electricity had been knocked out on the island.

“We are still collecting reports of damages and injuries … but the situation has returned to normal and people are going back home,” he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the country had dodged what could have been a disaster.

“Thank God it did not lead to a major tsunami and there is no significant damage,” he said.

A 2004 tsunami triggered by a magnitude-9.2 earthquake in the same part of Indonesia killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries on the Indian Ocean basin.

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