The epicentre of the quake was about 481km southwest from Kuala Lumpur.
At 6.38pm, an aftershock measuring 5.5 was also recorded 11km north of Padang.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre first issued a tsunami alert for Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Thailand, but later cancelled it at about 7.31pm, saying that no significant waves were generated.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department did not issue a warning for Malaysia because it believed the waves will not reach our shores. However, the Department told The Star that it will continue to monitor the situation.
People evacuated high-rise buildings in the Klang Valley, including the KL City Centre.
In the JayaOne complex here, reports came in of shaking furniture and swaying fixtures.
Mariam Anis and her colleagues on their 21st-floor office in Plaza Sentral, Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur felt the tremors.
“The tremors were strong and I could feel the building shaking. My colleagues and I did not waste another second and ran towards the emergency stairways to make our way down from the 21st floor.
“It was rather scary,” she said.
Tremors were also felt in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya. Mohd Kamel Othman, press secretary to Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, was in his office at the Prime Minister’s Department when he felt the tremor.
“I could literally see the building moving from left to right. Even the flowerpots were shaking. I immediately rallied my colleagues to leave the building.
“My minister also came out of his office as he too could feel the tremors,” he said, adding while he had experienced tremors before, the one which occured Wednesday were stronger.
So far, there has been no report of the 300 Malaysian students at Andalas University in Padang being affected by the massive earthquake.
Malaysian Consul-General Fauzi Omar told The Star that he has contacted the Sumatra Barat tourism chief and was told that there is no report of any Malaysians being hurt.
“Well at least the tourism chief’s handset is still working. I have been told the Minangkabau airport in Padang is closed.
“I am trying to leave for Padang tonight. It is a one-hour flight and by road it will take at least one day because of the bad road condition,” Fauzi said.
The Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta is despatching a team to Padang in Sumatra to assist the Consul-General in Medan to check on the students.
Padang was hardest hit by the earthquake.
“We are sending a team as soon as possible and our Consul-General in Pekan Baru will also be despatched to help,” said Malaysian embassy charge d’affaires Amran Mohamad Zain.
Tremors were also felt in Singapore. There were no immediate reports of a high waves or injuries.
India has also not issued a tsunami warning, an official said.
“Our model simulations do not show any significant threat to India. For India we have not issued any tsunami warning.” said Srinivasa Kumar of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Reuters reported.
The wire agency also said that the quake, which struck off the city of Padang on the coast of Sumatra, damaged houses, brought down bridges and started fires in the city.
“Hundreds of houses have been damaged along the road. There are some fires, bridges are cut and there is extreme panic here maybe because water pipes are broken and there is flooding in the streets,” said a Reuters witness in the city.
Phone lines were down, Reuters reported.
The depth of the tsunami was measured at 85km, the United States Geological Survey said.
A series of tsunamis earlier smashed into the Pacific island nations of American and Western Samoa killing possibly more than 100 people, some washed out to sea, destroying villages and injuring hundreds, officials said on Wednesday.
A 9.15-magnitude quake, with its epicentre roughly 600km northwest of Padang, caused the 2004 tsunami which killed 232,000 people in Indonesia’s Aceh province, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and other countries across the Indian Ocean.
Geologists have long said Padang, with a population of 900,000, may one day be destroyed by a huge earthquake because of its location, Reuters reported.
“Padang sits right in front of the area with the greatest potential for an 8.9 magnitude earthquake,” said Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist at the Indonesian Science Institute, earlier this year.
“The entire city could drown,” in a tsunami triggered by such a quake, he warned.
THE STAR (30th sept)