The following update is from Sherry Panggabean of the Center for Disaster Risk Management and Community Development Studies (CDRM&CDS), located in Medan, Indonesia. This program is sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation.

A powerful earthquake hit Simeulue Island (map) in Aceh Province (150 km off Western coast of Aceh and about 140 km Northwest of Nias Island) at 1:36 a.m. Wednesday 11 January 2012. The quake was registered at 7.6 in magnitude by the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, but the agency revised the magnitude to 7.1, an official said. Smaller quakes between 5.0 – 5.4 magnitudes occurred following the 7.1 quakes. A tsunami warning had been issued but then the agency lifted it as the danger did not occur.

The main shock had the people living in the coastal area in Meulaboh and Ulele (Western coast of Aceh Province) fleeing to escape the areas by up to one kilometer for fear of tsunami, along with the instruction from authorities to stay away from the coast, Ibnu Sa’ad, head of emergency unit of provincial disaster management and mitigation agency said. Ibnu also said,”The people have rushed out their homes since the quake hit, but they did not panic,” However, local Metro TV reported the quake triggered panic in Meulaboh town. Nevertheless, Ibnu said, “So far the situation is safe”. According to him, the authority have not received any report of building collapsed or damaged, or people hurts, after their officials spread to the scene.

It was reported in the news that the quakes were also felt in Nias and Medan. However, communication networks in Nias has been down since then. I have tried to reach all contacts in Nias since morning to get the latest update, from CDRM&CDS staff, church partners, UNDSS, to local government, but has been unsuccessful.

No emergency alert from the government as of now. I will update you when I get more information.

– Sherry Panggabean

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