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7.7-magnitude quake strikes Indonesia

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Geophysicist puts quake in persepctive
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia triggering two tsunamis
  • NEW: Six people on Simeulue island injured when the quake hit, and two houses collapsed
  • Quake strikes 125 miles off coast of Sibolga on Indonesia's Sumatra island
  • Quake happened at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday local time (6:15 p.m. ET Tuesday)

(CNN) -- A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia early Wednesday, triggering two tsunamis and injuring several people, officials said.

Six people on Simeulue island were injured when the quake hit, and two houses collapsed under the violent shaking, said Dadik, the head of Simeulue police, who goes by only one name.

The island is just off the coast of Banda Aceh, a city at the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island where residents lost power after the temblor.

"The quake was felt quite strong, maybe about three to four minutes," said Dadik, the head of Simeulue police who goes by only one name. "I've ordered my staff to check if there's any damage or casualties, but apparently no damage reported so far."

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Residents in coastal towns fled inland to higher ground just after the quake, according to a local radio station.

The temblor struck 125 miles from Sibolga, situated on Sumatra, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The quake hit at a depth of 19.3 miles at 5:15 a.m. (6:15 p.m. ET, Tuesday) said USGS, which downgraded the quake from an earlier magnitude of 7.8.

Measurements of sea levels indicated that tsunami waves "may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

Scientists said they do not expect a tsunami to affect the west coast of North America.

The tsunamis, in Banyak Island and Teluk Dalam, were small and not dangerous, measuring just under a foot high, said Fauzi, chief of the Indonesian Meteorological and Geophysics Agency. Fauzi also goes by only one name, which is common in Indonesia.

Indonesian officials acted quickly to announce the tsunami warning, said geophysicist Gerard Fryer with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Indonesia's Meteorological and Geophysics Agency lifted it about two hours later, as did the warning center.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude underwater earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 14 countries.

The tsunami, which washed away entire communities, caused nearly $10 billion in damage and more casualties than any other tsunami in history, according to the United Nations. Indonesia was among the hardest hit nations.

Indonesia is on the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

CNN's Augie Martin and Andy Saputra contributed to this report.