April 2, 2006

Moderate quake rocks western Indonesia

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A moderate earthquake struck off the
western Indonesian island of Simeulue on Sunday, but there were
no immediate reports of casualties or damage, an Indonesian
official said.

The epicenter of the 5.4 magnitude earthquake lay 22 km
south of Simeulue island in Aceh province and at a depth of
around 33 km (20 miles), a Meteorology and Geophysics Agency
official in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, told Reuters.

Simeulue lies west of Sumatra, one of Indonesia's major
islands, and is around 1,200 km northwest of the country's
capital, Jakarta.

The official said the tremor was followed by two smaller
quakes, both of 4.1 magnitude, but caused no damage.

A tsunami caused by an Indian Ocean earthquake in December
2004 devastated Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra,
leaving some 170,000 people dead or missing.

Earthquakes are frequent in Indonesia, the world's fourth
most populous country. Its 17,000 islands sprawl along a belt
of intense volcanic and seismic activity, part of what is
called the Pacific Ring of Fire.