Second earthquake strikes Indonesia

At least nine people are dead and 49 wounded after a powerful earthquake struck Indonesia Thursday, the second to hit the country in two days, officials said.

Less than a dayafter a deadly earthquake struck Indonesia, another powerfultremor rocked the country Thursday,causingbuildings to collapse and triggering tsunami warnings, officials said.

Indonesian office workers evacuate their building following a magnitude 8.4 earthquake in Jakarta on Wednesday. ((Dita Alangkara/Associated Press))

At least nine people are dead and 49 wounded in Indonesia as a result of both earthquakes.

The tremor was also felt in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia, where it caused tall buildings to sway.

The 7.8-magnitude quake hit at 6:49 a.m. local time (7:49 p.m. ET), and was centred200 kilometres from Bengkulu, a city on Sumatra island, at a shallowdepth of 10 kilometres, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Rafael Abreu, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, said the quake did not appear to be an aftershock to Wednesday's 8.4-magnitude tremor that shook the same part of Sumatra.

"We are not calling it an aftershock at this point. It's fairly large itself. It seems to be a different earthquake," Abreu said.

Indonesia issued a tsunami warning, lifted it and then reissued it.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology issued a warning that waves could hit Christmas Island early Thursday, but locals said there was no sign of the predicted tsunami.

"The danger has passed," said Linda Cash, a manager at the Christmas Island Visitors Centre. "There was no wave or damage or anything."

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the new quake could generate a destructive regional tsunami along coasts within 965 kilometres of the epicentre, and advised authorities in coastal areas to take immediate action.

Buildings collapse

Officials in the west Sumatra city of Padang told local news stations that there was extensive damage to the area.

"Many buildings collapsed after this morning's quake," Mayor Fauzi Bahar told El Shinta radio. "We're still trying to find out about victims."

One witness reported thousands of residents piling into vehicles and seeking shelter on higher ground out of fear of a tsunami.

The island was ravaged in the December 2004 tsunami disaster that struck off Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries.

Anotherwitnesstold a radio station thata three-storey building collapsednear his office. "I saw it with my own eyes," Budi Darmawan said.

First quake struck Wednesday

At least four countries felt the first earthquake, which caused tall buildings to sway in cities as far as 1,900 kilometres away.

The quakestruck Wednesday evening local time (7:10 a.m. ET) off the coast ofsouthern Sumatrakilled at leastfive people and injured dozens. It also caused tsunami warnings for the entire Indian Ocean region, officials said, and was followed by several powerful aftershocks.

A wave of up tothree metresin height was reported to have struck thewestern Sumatra city of Padang about 20 minutes after the initial quake, said Suhardjono, an official with Indonesia's meteorological agency, who goes by only one name.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which issued the initial alert spanning several countries,confirmed asmall tsunamihit Padang. But the readings were moderate, said Stuart Weinstein, a geophysicistwith the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A 6.6-magnitude aftershock forced Indonesian authorities toissue a second tsunami warning hours afterthe initialquake triggeredwidespread alerts. Bothadvisories were later lifted.

Phone lines and electricity also were cut and most of the damage appeared to be from the quake.

The aftershock prompted a tsunami warning as far away as Africa, with the Kenyan governmentissuing an alert askingall people to leave beach areas.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

With files from the Associated Press