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M7.4 Laut Sinabang-Sibaboh Earthquake, 2008


20 February 2008


N of Sibaboh, Simeulue Isl.


08:08:32 UTC (15:08:32 WIT)


02.792 N (NEIC)


96.090 E (NEIC)


22.0 kms (NEIC)


Mw 7.4 (HRV), 7.2 (NEIC)

Additional Info

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A 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 the Mw=9.1 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in 2004 and the Mw=7.4 Laut Sinabang-Senarung earthquake in 2002.

The earthquake was centred 8.1 kms N of Sibaboh (Simeulue Island), Indonesia,
35.7 kilometres ESE of Batunezerah (Simeulue Island), Indonesia,
46.7 kilometres NW of Sinabang (Simeulue Island), Indonesia,
64.2 kms NW of Pasirtinnggi
(Simeulue Island), Indonesia,
131 kilometres WSW of Takaptuan (Sumatra), Indonesia,
150 kilometres S of Meulaboh (Sumatra), Indonesia,

238 kilometres NW of Gunungsitoli (Nias Island), Indonesia,
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 Lumpur, Malaysia.

4 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 the 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.

01) National Earthquake Information Centre (NEIC), Golden, USA.
Harvard Centroid Moment Tensor Solution (HRV), Harvard, USA.
Macroseismic information has been compiled by the ASC from reports by local media and local NGO personnel.

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Page Updated: 25 Feb 2008 | Website Disclaimer

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