Jakarta: A powerful, shallow earthquake hit off the southwestern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia on Wednesday and could trigger a tsunami, officials said. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The US Geological Service said the earthquake struck Wednesday evening and had a preliminary magnitude of 7.8. 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 far from land, about 662 kilometers (411 miles) from the town of Muara Siberut.
Indonesian officials warned that the quake might trigger a tsunami.
Marjina, a resident of Sikakap in the Mentawai islands, about 720 kilometers (450 miles) from the epicenter, said the quake was felt only weakly there, but the tsunami warning caused panic among villagers, who ran to higher ground.
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 massive magnitude-9.1 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.