75 People Killed in Indonesia by Powerful Earthquake

Wednesday a powerful earthquake rocked western Indonesia. It trapped thousands under collapsed buildings. At least 75 people were killed on Sumatra island and the death toll was expected to climb sharply.

The magnitude 7.6 quake struck at 5:15 p.m. local time (1015GMT, 6:15 a.m. EDT), just off the coast of Padang city the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was along the same fault line that spawned the massive 2004 Asian tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

A tsunami warning for countries along the Indian Ocean was issued, and panicked residents fled to higher ground fearing giant waves. The warning was lifted about an hour later.

When the quake struck, the ground was shaking so hard that people sat down on the streets to avoid falling over, footage shot in Padang and broadcast by local TVOne network showed, The Associated Press reports.

It was also reported, shock waves were felt in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. A tsunami alert was initially issued for the region but hours later it was called off. The earthquake occurred one day after an 8.0 earthquake triggered a Tsunami that struck the Pacific island of Samoa.

Randy Baldwin a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Center says the two events were not related.

"There is quite a bit of distance separating the two different quakes, there is no relationship," he said. "It's just a very active region all the way around the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean," Voice of America reports.

News agencies report, this region is accustomed to earthquakes, and locals have been taught to identify safe places in case of a tsunami, according to Sean Granville-Ross, the Mercy Corps country director for Indonesia. "We hope that preparation is now paying off," he said.

But if many homes have been destroyed, people may be spending the night with no shelter, he said.

Several buildings were damaged, Metro TV reported, and people were seen running out of their homes and toward the hills. One employee of a private company in Jalan Ahmad Yani, told Antara news agency that "everybody panicked with some shouting 'earthquake.'"

TVOne pictures from the scene showed people milling around outside in the city, CNN reports.

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