Indonesia issued a tsunami warning after a powerful earthquake followed by several aftershocks struck off Aceh province.
The first 8.6 magnitude quake struck at 4.38 a.m EDT followed by an 8.2 magnitude aftershock at 6.43 a.m. EDT, according to a report from Reuters. Two more strong aftershocks hit later.
The US Geological Survey (USGS), which documents quakes worldwide, said the first quake struck about 434 kilometers (270 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province. it took place at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles).
The quake was reportedly felt as far away as India. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami watch for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh and Singapore.
Indonesian officials issued a tsunami warning for cities along the coast, while President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono downplayed the threat of a tsunami and said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Indonesia is located on a series of seismic fault lines that leaves it vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off Indonesia on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean that killed over 200,000 people in more than a dozen countries. Since then, tsunami warning systems were established across the region.
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – an 8.6-magnitude quake was recorded off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, media reports said. the quake was centered 30 kilometers under the sea and about 495 kilometers from Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
The quake at 2.38 pm Wednesday, April 11, initially pegged at 8.9 magnitude, triggered an Indian Ocean tsunami watch.
At least 28 countries were under the tsunami watch, including Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and India, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. the Center later lifted the tsunami watch for most of the Indian Ocean except Indonesia, India and several islands.
The Philippines is not included in the tsunami watch. Philippine authorities have allayed fears of a tsunami in the country.
WARNING. Tsunami message posted on the website of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Quakes of such magnitude “have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean basin,” the center added.
The tsunami warning center said it had not yet ascertained whether a tidal wave had been generated but that one was likely given the strength of the temblor, and advised local authorities to take “appropriate action.”
Tremors have been felt in Singapore, Thailand and southern India, the BBC said.
Aceh felt a 6.5-magnitude aftershock, according to reports. the shakemap below from the US Geological survey, shows the groundshaking felt in areas affected by the recent earthquake.
SHAKEMAP. This is a representation of ground shaking produced by the Sumatra earthquake. Source: US Geological Survey website
The US Geological Survey (USGS) initially said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.7 off the west coast of northern Sumatra in Indonesia and near Banda Aceh.
On December 26, 2004 a 9.2-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra generated a catastrophic tsunami that wrought devastation across southern Asia, killing an estimated 220,000 people.
Last year, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, killing some 19,000 people. – with reports from Agence France-Presse