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Strong earthquake panics villagers in western Indonesia, but no damage or tsunami reported
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) ¯¯¯ A powerful earthquake jolted western Indonesia early Wednesday, sending panicked residents fleeing from homes in towns and villages across Sumatra island's northern tip. No tsunami was generated and there were no reports of injuries or damage.
The magnitude 6.6 quake hit about 7:30 a.m. (0030 GMT) and was centered 28 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of Aceh province's Sinabang town at a depth of 45 kilometers (28 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Suharjono, from Indonesia's meteorology and geophysic agency, said the earthquake had no potential to generate a tsunami. He said a quake that close to the coast would have to be more powerful to generate a giant wave.
Suharjono, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, said there were no reports of damage or injuries.
Residents of Sinabang on Simeuleu island, off the west coast of Sumatra and close to the epicenter, said the quake struck as people were gathered for pre-dawn meals and prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan.
"A few seconds strong earthquake shook everything around us," said Ahmadi, a trader at the town's market. "Everybody ran out from homes ... many screaming in panic, but there was no damage around us."
The panic extended to several towns and villages in Aceh's neighboring province of North Sumatra. Fearing aftershocks, many refused to go back inside for hours.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
A giant quake on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Aceh.