A powerful and shallow earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island, sending panicked residents rushing from their homes in a region hit hard by quakes and tsunamis in the past. The quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometres on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami alert for parts of Sumatra, including West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Aceh, the local BMKG quake monitoring agency said.

Hours later, the tsunami warning was lifted. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The epicentre was several hundred kilometres from the Mentawai Islands, a small chain southwest of the country’s main western island of Sumatra.

The quake was felt strongly in Padang, a major city on western Sumatra, sparking panic. A journalist with the AFP news agency there said that people ran from their homes and fled to higher ground by motorbike, car or on foot.
Traffic ground to a halt and there was a sense of panic on the streets, the journalist said.

Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said tsunami warning sirens were after the earthquake activated and “people responded to the early warning by evacuating to higher places”.