KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 – Thousands of people were evacuated from high-rise buildings here after tremors hit the country following a strong earthquake of a magnitude of 7.6 on the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Reuters has reported that the earthquake struck off the city of Padang on the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, damaging houses, bringing down bridges and starting fires, according to witnesses.
A regional tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre immediately after the quake but was withdrawn by 7.30pm.
“Hundreds of houses have been damaged along the road. There are some fires, bridges are cut and there is extreme panic here maybe because water pipes are broken and there is flooding in the streets,” said a Reuters witness in the city. Indonesia is situated in a belt of intense seismic activity known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.6, with its epicentre about 80km deep, and 475km (295 miles) south-south-west of Kuala Lumpur.
A series of tsunamis earlier smashed into the Pacific island nations of American and Western Samoa killing possibly more than 100 people, some washed out to sea, destroying villages and injuring hundreds, officials said on Wednesday.
Padang, the capital of Indonesia’s West Sumatra province, sits on one of the world’s most active fault lines along the “Ring of Fire” where the Indo-Australia plate grinds against the Eurasia plate to create regular earth tremors and sometimes quakes.
A 9.15 magnitude quake, with its epicentre roughly 600 km (373 miles) northwest of Padang, caused the 2004 tsunami which killed 232,000 people in Indonesia’s Aceh province, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and other countries across the Indian Ocean.
In Kuala Lumpur, occupants were evacuated from the Petronas Twin Towers, Wisma IMC at Jalan Sultan Ismail and other tall buildings.
A member of the public who called The Malaysian Insider said he felt dizzy and thought she was falling ill before she was informed by her collegues that everyone had to evacuate the IMC tower which has 28 floors.
“Our friends at buildings nearby also felt the tremours but I am not sure if they had been evacuated.”
The New Zealand High Commission and Cathay Pacific is based at Wisma IMC.
In Bangsar, a resident of a high-rise condominium, Damyanti Ghose said she rushed down from her apartment after water began splashing from her aquarium.
“The fish were going up and down and then water splashed out,” she said.