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Strong Subsea Earthquake Recorded Near Sumatra

24 August 2011

A strong earthquake stuck southwest of Sumatra in Indonesia on early Tuesday morning, seismologists said, but there were no reports of damage or casualties.

The 6.2-magnitude earthquake at 3.12 a.m. local time (2012 GMT Monday) was centered about 101 kilometers (63 miles) southwest of Bengkunat, a village located in the West Lampung Regency of Lampung province in far southwestern Sumatra. It struck about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to Indonesia’s seismological agency (BMKG).

The United States Geological Survey (USGS), which measured the earthquake at 6.0 on the Richter scale, estimated that some 900 people along the coast may have felt moderate shaking. It said some 220,000 people could have felt light shaking.

"[The earthquake has] no tsunami potential,” a brief text message from BMKG said, giving no other details. Earthquakes below magnitude 7 do usually not generate tsunamis. There were no reports of damage or casualties.

Indonesia is on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

On December 26, 2004, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded struck off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. The 9.1-magnitude earthquake unleashed a deadly tsunami, striking scores of countries in the region. In all, at least 227,898 people were killed.

And most recently, on October 25, 2010, a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck just off the Mentawai Islands off the western coast of Sumatra. As a result, a wall of water killed at least 435 people on the islands and impacted more than 20 villages.