major earthquake struck the island of
Simeulue, off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on
20 February 2008 at 15:08 PM local time.
It was centred in the Sinabang Sea and had a magnitude of Mw=7.4 causing damage and
several casualties in the epicentral region. Despite it size
but given its location, it did not generate a destructive tsunami.
This is the strongest earthquake in this immediate region since
Mw=9.1 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake
in 2004 and the
Mw=7.4 Laut Sinabang-Senarung
earthquake in 2002.
8.1 kms N of
35.7 kilometres ESE of Batunezerah (Simeulue
46.7 kilometres NW of Sinabang (Simeulue
64.2 kms NW of Pasirtinnggi (Simeulue
131 kilometres WSW of Takaptuan (Sumatra),
150 kilometres S of Meulaboh (Sumatra), Indonesia,
238 kilometres NW of Gunungsitoli (Nias
301 kilometres WSW of Medan (Sumatra), Indonesia,
317 kilometres SSE of Banda Aceh (Sumatra), Indonesia,
523 kilometres SE of Campbell Bay (Great Nicobar Island), India,
608 kilometres W of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Kuala
people were killed and another 51 injured in
this earthquake on the island of Simeulue. Two of the
deaths occurred in Simeulue Barat while the other two fatalities
occurred at Kampung Air in Kecamatan Simeulue Tengah.
The worst damage was
experienced in the sub-district of Simeulue Barat where numerous buildings
either collapsed or were badly damaged. A community health centre
was destroyed at Alafan and at least one bridge has
been seriously damaged on the island.
At Sinabang, many buildings were damaged including the jetty in
the port. Tremors were felt for close to a minute throughout the island
including at Sinabang where there was widespread panic.
A communications tower belonging to Telkomsel collapsed and electricity was cut
to the entire island. Generators provided back-up power to
Sinabang and the Lasikin Airport while gensets were used at the
hospital, the Secretariat and in other official buildings. Residents of the island of Simeulue immediately fled to higher
ground fearing a tsunami.
This earthquake was strongly felt in many parts of Sumatra. In the
city of Banda Aceh it was felt for over a minute and many people
rushed outdoors including at the city's hospital. A seismic seiche
was observed in the Krueng Aceh River in Banda Aceh during the
quake. Tremors was very strongly at Meulaboh where one person was
injured but services at the Cut Nyak Dein Airport were not
affected. People rushed
outdoors in Nagan Raya Regency where power supply was
also disrupted. Persons driving at the time between Meulaboh and Blang Pidie
also felt the earthquake. At Blang Pidie, the intensity of the
tremors is said to have been similar to those experienced during
Mw=8.7 March 2005 Nias Earthquake.
At Bireun, loose objects were displaced and many people ran
outdoors. In the city of Medan, hanging objects were shaken and
many people rushed outdoors gathering in the open. At Berastagi
and Kabanjahe in the Karo Highlands to the west of Medan, many
people rushed outdoors and gathered on road fearing aftershocks.
Strong tremors were also felt on Nias Island including
Gunungsitoli where many people went outdoors. Elsewhere on
Sumatra, it was also
felt at Bukittinggi, Langsa, Medan, Padang, Sibolga and Tapaktuan.
Light tremors were felt as far away as Malaysia
and Thailand. In Malaysia, it was felt in tall buildings on Pinang
Island, Georgetown, Johor Baharu, Kota Baharu, Petaling Jaya, Putrajaya and in the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
A few buildings in Johor Baharu, Kota Baharu, Penang & Putrajaya
were evacuated as a precautionary measure. In Thailand, it was felt on Phuket as well as in the
capital, Bangkok where people in high-rise buildings on the Silom
& Sathorn Roads briefly left their offices. Felt information
from the Indian Nicobar Islands is unavailable.
A tsunami watch was
issued but later lifted for the coast of Indonesia and adjacent parts of the
Andaman & Nicobar archipelago. A tsunami watch was also issued
in Thailand for Phuket and five adjacent coastal provinces but was
lifted within 90-minutes. Nevertheless, many people evacuated to
higher ground at Ban Nam Khem on Phang Nga.
Earthquake Information Centre (NEIC), Golden, USA.
Harvard Centroid Moment Tensor Solution (HRV),
Macroseismic information has been compiled by
the ASC from reports by local media and local NGO personnel.
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