Local officials in a quake-prone Indonesian province said Monday they were taking precautionary measures after a Brazilian psychic warned a powerful earthquake would strike next month.

Husni Hassanuddin, a spokesman for Bengkulu province on Sumatra island, said the Indonesian embassy in Brasilia had passed on a letter from a "professor" and psychic predicting a quake would rock the island on December 23.

"During a recent meeting with all senior officials in Bengkulu, we determined a number of evacuation shelters for residents, especially those who live in the coastal areas," he told ElShinta radio.

He said there would be several evacuation drills around the province prior to December 23.

"Though we call it a rumour, we take this information seriously. We don't want people to blame us if it really happens," he said.

Another Bengkulu official, Fauzan Rahim, told state-run Antara news agency that he had seen a copy of the letter from Jucelino Nobrega da Luz, which predicted an 8.5-magnitude quake on Sumatra, but did not give an exact location. Sumatra is home to nine other provinces.

Antara said da Luz had sent a letter in 1998 predicting the tsunami that devastated Indonesia in 2004. He also issued a warning in 2006 forecasting September's 8.4-magnitude quake in Bengkulu, which left 23 people dead, it said.

A seismologist from the Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency told ElShinta that no technology in the world could predict an earthquake.

"We have told people repeatedly that we cannot predict a quake. If there's information about the date on which a quake will occur, it is surely untrue," he said.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.