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Indonesians flee to highlands after 7.1 earthquake damages hospital

Indonesians flee to highlands after 7.1 earthquake damages hospital

Jakarta: Thousands of residents fled to higher ground in eastern Indonesia early on Tuesday after a powerful undersea earthquake occurred, fearing a tsunami threat.

Streams of people in a village on Mentawai Island fled to the highlands under the cover of darkness and rain on motorcycles, according to a video released by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Meanwhile, some hospital patients had to be moved to the hospital's yard because cracks were visible on the building's floor.

West Sumatra and North Sumatra province districts and cities felt the shocks, and several places ordered evacuations to higher ground, Associated Press reported.

According to agency spokeswoman Abdul Muhari, residents in some areas of West Sumatra province, including the provincial capital of Padang, felt the earthquake strongly for roughly 30 seconds.

“Many residents in several villages on Mentawai island chose to stay displaced in higher ground although the tsunami alert was ended due to fears of aftershocks,” he said, adding that authorities were still collecting information about the damage.

According to the US Geological Survey, the 7.1 magnitude earthquake had its epicentre 15 kilometres (9 miles) beneath the surface, 170 kilometres (105 miles) southeast of Teluk Dalam, a seaside settlement in the South Nias district of North Sumatra. Aftershocks with a 5.8 magnitude were recorded.

About two hours after the earthquake, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency of Indonesia lifted the initial tsunami alert. The agency's preliminary magnitude was originally 7.3 but was later lowered to 6.9. Early measurements can vary.

A minor tsunami of 11 centimetres (4.3 inches) was observed in the Tanah Bala coastline area of South Nias regency, according to Daryono, the agency's chief of the Earthquake and Tsunami Centre.

270 million people live in the huge archipelago of Indonesia, which is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake that struck a portion of West Java in November killed at least 340 people and destroyed more than 62,600 dwellings.

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