Aceh Tsunami Museum
A worker looks at names of the 2004 tsunami victims on a wall at the Aceh Tsunami Museum during preparations for a ceremony in Banda Aceh December 25, 2014. Reuters/Beawiharta

Indonesian officials placed the regions of West Sumatra, Aceh and North Sumatra on a tsunami warning after a magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck the island of Sumatra at 6:50 pm on Wednesday. The tremor’s strength was initially estimated by US Geological Survey (USGS) as magnitude 8.3, but it was lowered.

Australia initially issued a tsunami warning for Christmas Island and Cocos Island in the Pacific, but Canberra later cancelled the warning, reported Moderntribune. Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPNB) also lifted the tsunami alert for Indonesia one hour and 45 minutes after the earth shook and nothing happened, said BPNB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, reports Jakarta Globe.

The local daily notes that when the warning was issued, Padang residents who lived near the coast fled their homes and drove to safer areas aboard their motorcycles and cars.

The quake’s epicentre is in the Indian Ocean, 660 kilometres southwest of Muara Siberut and 600 miles west-southwest of Padang on Sumatra’s west coast, reports CNN. It struck 15 miles deep, according to the USGS.

Heeding a tsunami warning has become important to Indonesians after the country was on Christmas Day by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The giant waves killed more than 200,000 people. The tsunami was triggered by waves as high as 57 feet which affected more than a dozen nations.

The tsunami then was the result of a magnitude 8.9 temblor that opened a fault line under the Indian Ocean. Indonesia experiences a large number of tremors because it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

So far, there are no reports yet of damage or casualties due to the March 2 earthquake, almost five years that a magnitude 8.9 earthquake rocked Japan and created tsunamis that destroyed the nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture and also killed thousands.