8.2 Quake Strikes Indonesia; Triggers Tsunami

A powerful magnitude-8.2 quake struck the west coast of Indonesia Wednesday evening, triggering a small tsunami and sending hundreds of people in affected cities fleeing into the streets.

Early reports indicate seven people killed, 100 injured, buildings badly damaged in several cities, and downed phone lines and electricity, according to The Associated Press. The quake reportedly generated a wave of up to 9 feet that hit the city of Padang on the island of Sumatra.

"The city is in complete chaos. Everyone is heading to higher ground. I saw one house collapsed to the ground. I'm trying to save my family," said a witness in Padang, according to Reuters.

The quake could be felt 375 miles away in Indonesia's capital Jakarta where office workers reportedly gushed down the stairways of tall, swaying buildings. High rises in neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand also swayed due to the earthquake.

"People rushed from tower blocks into the street [in Jakarta], terrified that the quake could be a repeat of the massive earthquake that triggered the South Asia tsunami in 2004," reported Hendro Suwito, World Vision's communications manager in Indonesia.

"Many, many people rushed out of the high-rise buildings in Jakarta, and one TV station broadcast the lamps swinging from the station ceiling," Suwito said. "Over the last two months, we have felt shaking several times, but this one was bigger than all those."

Christian humanitarian organizations World Vision and Catholic Relief Services both announced they are ready to respond in the aftermath of the quake.

World Vision's director in Indonesia, Trihadi Saptoadi, and WV's humanitarian emergency assistance manager, Jimmy Nadapdap, are monitoring the situation to see if a rapid emergency response is required.

Meanwhile, Catholic Relief Services, which has worked in Indonesia for 50 years, said it is in touch with local partners and communities and is positioned to respond.

Indonesia is often hit by quakes, lying on an active seismic belt on part of what is known as the Pacific "Ring of Fire." The world's largest archipelago has suffered 15 earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.3 or higher since the tsunami in December 2004, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington.

In 2004, a massive quake off of Sumatra Island triggered the historic tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Wednesday's quake was about 10 times smaller than the 9.0-magnitude temblor in 2004.

Both quakes struck near religious holidays with the 2004 quake occurring on Dec. 26 – a day after Christmas – and Wednesday's quake striking a day before the beginning of Ramadan – the holiest month in Islam – in Indonesia. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world.

Wednesday's undersea quake hit at about 6:10 p.m. (7:10 a.m. EDT), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Its epicenter was 80 miles southwest of Sumatra Island at a depth of 18.6 miles.

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