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Indonesia Earthquake Prompts Tsunami Warning

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INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE
Local residents wait for evacuation on a roadside following an earthquake in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, early Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (AP) | AP

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- A powerful earthquake hit off the coast of western Indonesia early Wednesday, prompting officials to briefly issue a tsunami warning. Panicked residents ran from their homes, some fleeing to high ground by car or motorcycle, but there were no reports of injuries or serious damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-7.3 quake struck 260 miles (420 kilometers) off the coast of Aceh province just after midnight. It was centered 18 miles (30 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor.

People in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh – still deeply traumatized by the 2004 monster quake and tsunami – poured into the streets as sirens blared from local mosques. Some headed to the hills, choking roads with traffic.

"I'm afraid," said Fera, a resident, who skidded off on her motorbike with her two children and her mother.

In the town of Simeulue, patients were evacuated from a hospital.

Officials contacted by The Associated Press in several coastal cities, however, had not received any reports about injuries or significant damage.

Nearly two hours after the quake, the local geological agency lifted its tsunami warning.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

A giant quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Aceh.

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Associated Press writers Ali Kotarumalos and Niniek Karmini contributed to this report from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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