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Powerful Earthquake Hits Indonesia


A powerful earthquake struck off western Indonesia killing at least four people, destroying several buildings and triggering a small tsunami. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

The U.S. geological Survey said the powerful underground earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 was centered around 105 kilometers southwest of Bengkulu on Indonesia's Sumatra island.

The Indonesia government issued a second tsunami warning after an aftershock registering 6.6 on ther Richter scale hit the island.

Indonesia's meteorological agency reported the tremor caused a small tsunami in the town of Padang, with a one to three meter wave hitting the town.

Several buildings in Padang province were also reported to have been damaged or collapsed.

Wednesday night's earthquake was felt as far away as Singapore and Thailand and caused high rise buildings in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to sway.

In December 2004, a powerful 9.1 earthquake triggered a tsunami off the coast of Sumatra island that killed over 160,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh province.

After the December 2004 tsunami, a tsunami alert system was put in place to warn people of potential tsunamis. The Indonesian presidential spokesman Andi Mallerangeng says the system seems to be working.

"People understand what they have to do when the earthquake happens," said Andi Mallerangeng. "Everybody right now knows what to do in case of earthquake and the possibility of tsunami. So they go outside and they go to higher ground and the local government apparatus are making sure that they go through the routes that have already been determined before."

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago and is located on the so called "Pacific Rim of Fire" - an arc of volcanoes and fault lines along the Pacific Basin that is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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