Powerful quake hits off Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A powerful, shallow earthquake hit off the western coast of Sumatra in Indonesia Wednesday and could have triggered a tsunami, officials said.

The U.S. Geological Service said the earthquake struck Wednesday evening and had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9. It was centered under the ocean at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), it said.

Shallow earthquakes are more likely to cause damage, but the USGS said the quake was located quite far from land, about 662 kilometers (411 miles) from the city of Muara Siberut.

Indonesian officials warned that the quake might trigger a tsunami.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology issued a marine warning for distant Cocos and Christmas islands. It did not advise evacuations, but said strong and dangerous currents were possible and people should secure boats and avoid waterfront areas. The warning noted that a tsunami had not been confirmed.

A monster quake off Indonesia in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Aceh province.

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