Indonesia Earthquake Triggers Tsunami Alert, A massive earthquake struck off Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Wednesday, triggering an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert and evacuation orders to clear people away from the coast.
The quake’s magnitude was 8.6, according a revised reading from the US Geological Survey, and struck 431 kilometres (268 miles) off the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh where terrified residents poured into the streets.
The city was near the epicentre of a devastating 9.1-magnitude quake in 2004 that triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean which killed 220,000 people, including 170,000 in Aceh province which lies on the northern tip of Sumatra.
The latest tremor was felt as far afield as Thailand, where skyscrapers in the capital Bangkok swayed. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand all issued evacuation orders.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said there was “so far no tsunami threat” after the quake but that the country remained on alert.
Residents in Banda Aceh reported the ground shook for about five minutes, first mildly and then growing violent.
“There are people trying to evacuate, some are praying and children at a school were panicking as teachers tried to get them out,” an AFP correspondent in Banda Aceh said.
“There are traffic jams everywhere as people are trying to get away from the coast — many are on motorcycles,” he said, adding that telephone connections and electricity were patchy.
US monitors issued an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami watch but said it was not yet certain a giant wave had been generated.
“Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean basin,” the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.