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President instructs BNPB to mitigate massive quake impacts

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to take steps to mitigate the impacts of massive earthquake that hit Mentawai, West Sumatra, on Wednesday.

The President reportedly continued to monitor minute by minute developments of the situation in the field on the sidelines of his working visit to Medan, North Sumatra.

Jokowi also asked the people of Mentawai to remain alert to the possibilty of aftershocks.

A 7.8 magnitude quake that was 682 kilometers southwest of Mentawai islands hit at 7:49 p.m. local time Wednesday. The earthquake was felt in Medan. Shortly before the earthquake, at 7:40 p.m., President Jokowi arrived at the JW Marriott Hotel in Medan, where he stayed during his visit.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) issued a tsunami warning for Aceh, Bengkulu, Lampung, North Sumatra and West Sumatra, but later lifted it.

Tremors could be felt in most of West Sumatra, including in Padang and Payakumbuh. When the quake first hit, people headed to higher ground, including high buildings.

"Based on the analysis of the Indonesian Disaster Expert Association, the earthquake has the possibility of causing a small tsunami. A huge tsunami happens in a massive thrust earthquake," Sutopo said in a statement made available to thejakartapost.com on Wednesday evening.

A 10-centimeter-high tsunami was reported in the Cocos Islands at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday and a 5-cm one in Padang at 9:40 p.m. The BMKG lifted the tsunami warning at 10:34 p.m.

"With the lifting of the tsunami warning, we are calling on all people to return home in an orderly fashion. There is nothing to fear. The important thing is to stay alert and follow the directions of [disaster mitigation] officials," Sutopo said.

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