A massive earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sumatra and authorities immediately issued tsunami warnings.  The 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the island killing people in the area, confirmed the Indonesian search and rescue Agency.

Heronimus Guru, the agency’s deputy head of operations said, “There are some who have died.” However, he refused to provide further information.

The US geographical survey stated that the quake hit 12.49 pm GMT. The initial reports stated that the tremors were of 8.2 magnitudes. It struck at the depth of just 10 km (six miles) and some 600 km (370) miles off the coast. The size and depth of the quake led the authorities in Indonesia, Australia, and Thailand to issue tsunami warning, reported Independent.  The Australian authorities, however, emphasized that a tsunami is not confirmed. The country also cancelled watch for Western Australia while specific warning has been issued for the Christmas and Cocos Islands.

Indonesia’s National Meteorological Agency  confirmed that warnings had been issued for North Sumatra, West Sumatra and Aceh. The tsunami threat has led people to evacuate to higher grounds in Sumatra.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, on the other hand, said a tsunami is unlikely. Its spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho stated, “Local governments of the city of Padang and some other areas in west Sumatra have said there was no tsunami and the warning can now be revoked.”

The country had witnessed the havoc of a tsunami in 2004.  A 9.1 magnitude quake and  struck 160 km (99 miles) off the western coast of northern Sumatra. 126,741 people were killed in Aceh province alone. Around a dozen countries were affected by it and almost 230,000 people were dead, as stated by RT.

Indonesia comes into a highly seismically active zone where neighbouring tectonic plates violently clash. Thus, the country witnesses a large number of earthquakes annually.

Last year Nepal was hit by a devastating earth quake. Most recently, Taiwan witnessed an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude.