Powerful earthquake rocks western Indonesia

Powerful quake destroys buildings in Indonesia AFP Graphics – Map locating the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A powerful 7.9-magnitude quake struck off Indonesia’s …

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Witnesses and media say a powerful earthquake hit western Indonesia, toppling buildings, cutting electricity and causing at least several injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9, and struck 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of Sumatra. The quake was along the same fault line that spawned the massive 2004 India Ocean tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people.

A tsunami warning for countries along the Indian Ocean was issued after the temblor struck early evening Wednesday and then lifted about an hour-and-a-half later.

Witnesses told local television and radio that hundreds of houses collapsed and that a road to the coastal town of Padang was cut off.

Witnesses reported at least several injuries.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A powerful underwater earthquake rocked western Indonesia Wednesday, triggering a tsunami alert for countries along the Indian Ocean and sending panicked residents out of their houses.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9. An Indonesian television network reported that buildings had collapsed in the coastal city of Padang, in Southern Sumatra province.

Indonesia’s meteorological agency said the quake had a preliminary magnitude at 7.6 and hit 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of Padang, along the same fault line the spawned the massive 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 230,000 in a dozen countries.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami alert for Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Thailand.

“There is a possibility of a destructive regional tsunami in the Indian Ocean,” it said in an e-mailed statement.

There were no immediate reports of a high waves.

It comes a day after a quake with a magnitude of between 8.0 and 8.3 in the South Pacific hurled a massive tsunami at the shores of Samoa and American Samoa, flattening villages and leaving at least 99 dead and dozens missing.

The epicenter of Wednesday’s temblor off Indonesia lies several thousand miles (kilometers) to the west, on the other side of Australia.

Witnesses said residents of Padang, and other town and cities, ran out of homes and buildings in fear when the quake hit in the early evening.

“People are panicking. They are running out of the buildings… There are many collapsed buildings,” an unidentified witness in Padang told MetroTV.

The shaking could be felt in high buildings in the capital, Jakarta, several hundred miles (kilometers) away. It was also felt in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.

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