Twin strong quakes strike off Indonesia

JAKARTA (AFP) – Two large and shallow earthquakes struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island early yesterday, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported, but no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

Frightened residents fled their homes when the twin offshore quakes rocked Bengkulu city on Sumatra’s western coast, an AFP reporter said.

“The first earthquake was quick…but another one hit shortly after and it was just as strong,” Bengkulu resident Jumentrio, who goes by one name, told AFP.

“My children screamed hysterically.”

The area was hit by a string of aftershocks, according to Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

“But until now we haven’t received any report of damages due to the earthquakes,” said Head of the agency’s Tsunami and Earthquake Centre Rahmat Triyono. The quakes, of magnitude 6.8 and 6.9, struck within six minutes of one another at a depth between 22 and 26 kilometres.

Shallower quakes tend to cause more damage than deeper ones. But the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System said there was “no threat to countries in the Indian Ocean”.