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Major earthquake shakes Indonesia

A tsunami warning was issued after a powerful, shallow earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Indonesia straddles the "Ring of Fire," a seismic zone known for its powerful earthquakes.

Indonesia issued a tsunami warning for West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Aceh after a powerful and shallow 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of the island of Sumatra on Wednesday, the US Geological Service (USGS) said.

Authororities recalled the warning around two hours after announcing it.

Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Nughoro said there were neither casualties nor damage reported.

"According to reports from the areas where the earthquake was felt, they are all safe," Sutopo said.

The earthquake's epicenter was initially reported to have taken place approximately ten kilometers (six miles) deep, but the USGS corrected its observation, noting that it occurred 24 kilometers (15 miles) below the earth's surface.

The earthquake struck around 800 kilometers (497 miles) from Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province.

"In addition to the current seismic hazards along this portion of the Sunda arc, this region is also recognized as having one of the highest volcanic hazards in the world," the USGS said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology also issued a warning for the Cocos and Christmas islands, although it did not advise evacuations and later recalled it.

In 2004, a massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia triggered a

devastating tsunami

that left 230,000 people dead in several countries, with most of them being reported in the Aceh province.

ls/sms (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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