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KUALA LUMPUR: A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck an area off the west coast of northern Sumatra yesterday afternoon, registering the most severe aftershock following the 8.6 quake which shook Aceh last Wednesday. More than 80 aftershocks have been recorded since.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (MMD), in a statement, said the earthquake’s epicentre was at 2.6˚ northern latitude and 90.3˚ eastern longitude.
The statement also said the location was 616km southwest of Great Nicobar, India and 1,104km southwest of Kampar, Perak.
MMD senior director Dr Mohd Rosaidi Che Abas said the aftershocks were common due to the huge amount of seismic activity that happened last week.
"Usually, the energy would already have been released during the first wave of tremors but some seismic energy is still present.
"And aftershocks are also present near the main earthquake epicentre," he said, adding that aftershocks could measure between 4.5 and 6.5 on the Richter scale and should not cause harm to the public nor would they trigger a tsunami.
Rosaidi said the aftershocks would decrease in strength and frequency over time, but might take several weeks as the initial earthquake was strong.
It was reported that Arif Nurahim, an official from Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency, said the 6.1 aftershock was not felt in Aceh and that there were no reports of damage.
The 8.6 earthquake which struck an area 431km off Banda Aceh, Sumatra last week triggered widespread panic and prompted tsunami alerts around the region, especially when an 8.2 magnitude aftershock was recorded immediately after it.
Tremors were experienced in parts of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and even India, following the quake that struck an area 431km off Banda Aceh in Sumatra.
The tsunami alert was finally lifted at 10pm on the same day with another advisory for the public not to approach coastal areas.
Meanwhile, the MMD has urged people living in coastal areas to have a fixed-line installed in homes to get alerts on impending tsunami.
The Fixed Line Alert System (FLAS) is one of the dissemination components of the early warning system to give out warnings through telephones to coastal communities.
Rosaidi said a voice message would be sent by MMD to the fixed lines registered under Telekom Malaysia Bhd in affected areas.
"Once the tsunami siren is activated, the telephone lines will ring until they are picked up."
He said the system would enable people who lived near coastal areas to receive a warning call to evacuate to a safer place if there is a tsunami threat.
"We have explained the FLAS to the public in our public awareness campaign."