PADANG (Indonesia), April 10: An earthquake of magnitude 6.8 rattled parts of Indonesia on Sunday, sending people in this city on Sumatra island rushing out of their homes and heading toward high ground in fear of a possible tsunami. An official said there were reports of houses flattened elsewhere on Sumatra, but as of three hours after the quake hit there were no reports of any casualties.

Jakarta-based meteorological analyst Wijayanto also told Reuters “there are no tsunami reports, so residents can return home, but they must still be careful of aftershocks”.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, no tsunami warning has been issued as a result of Sunday’s quake, but it also said there are no tsunami detection devices in the immediate area of the quake.

The latest quake was felt in Indonesia’s neighbour Singapore as well.

A Reuters reporter in Padang, a city of some 800,000 on Sumatra’s west coast, saw many frightened people leave their houses and seek higher ground.

“There are reports of damage in Pariaman and Lubuk Basung,” Wijayanto said, referring to other communities.

“Some houses are flattened.”

He said there were major problems with telephone communication into the affected areas, but electricity had been restored in Padang after an interruption of about an hour.

The United States Geological Survey said on its Web site that the quake, which struck at 1729 local time (0329pm PST) was “strong”.

It said aftershocks of 5.8 and 6.3 magnitude occurred in the same region.

Wijayanto said the quake epicentre was in the ocean 105km southwest of Padang at a depth of 30km.

“It’s part of the chain of previous quakes. It’s not an aftershock,” Fauzi, another official with the national meteorological bureau in Jakarta, told Reuters.

Singapore’s Channel News Asia said residents of high-rise apartments in the city state reported feeling their buildings swaying.—Reuters

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