No deaths in Indonesia quake; tsunami alert lifted

Wed Apr 7, 2010 8:14am EDT
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By Ahmadi

SINABANG, Indonesia (Reuters) - A major earthquake of 7.7 magnitude struck off the coast of Aceh in north-western Indonesia on Wednesday, triggering panic and power blackouts, but no deaths were reported and a tsunami alert was later lifted.

Neighboring Thailand and Malaysia also canceled tsunami warnings.

A Reuters photographer in Sinabang on Simeulue island, south of Aceh and close to the epicenter, said electricity was cut in the area and some people were injured, including a child with a head wound who had been hit by fallen masonry.

A local official said 17 people were hurt on the island, including four with serious injuries.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed relief the island of Sumatra appeared to have escaped major devastation.

"Thanks be to God the quake did not cause a tsunami or any significant damage," Yudhoyono told a briefing at Halim airport in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, about 1,200 km (750 miles) southeast of the quake's epicenter.

A Reuters correspondent who flew over Simeulue in a Hercules military transport plane saw a few houses with minor damage, and said fishermen had returned to the sea.

The resource-rich island of Sumatra, where Aceh is located, is an important supplier of commodities such as rubber, palm oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), but there were no immediate reports of delays in shipments because of the quake.   Continued...