THERE are no Filipino casualties in a powerful shallow earthquake that struck the western coast of Indonesia on Wednesday night, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
In a brief text message to reporters, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said, “So far we have not received any report of Filipinos affected by the earthquake in Indonesia.’
He added that the department still has no available figures for Filipinos on Sumatra island, particularly in Padang, where the quake struck.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), a 7.8 magnitude undersea quake struck at a depth of 24 kilometers (15 miles) at about 6:50 p.m.
Shallow earthquakes are more likely to cause damage, but the Indonesia quake was located far from land, about 659 kilometers (409 miles) from the town of Muara Siberut.
According to reports from local media, no damage or major casualties have been reported so far, but people in several cities and villages on Sumatra island and in Mentawai island chain panicked and immediately fled to higher ground.
In 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Indonesia triggered the world’s deadliest tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
Like the Philippines, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions because it is located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a highly seismically active zone where neighboring tectonic plates violently clash.
MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO