Tsunami alert issued after Indian Ocean quake11/04/2012 - 10:51:41
A tsunami watch has been issued for countries across the Indian Ocean after a large earthquake hit waters off Indonesia, sending people pouring from their homes in panic.
The US Geological Survey said the 8.7-magnitude quake was centred 20 miles beneath the ocean floor around 270 miles from Aceh’s provincial capital.
A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on December 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, nearly three-quarters of them in Aceh.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.
A tsunami watch means there is the potential for a tsunami, not that one is imminent.
Meanwhile Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre issued an evacuation order to residents in six provinces along the country’s west coast, including the popular tourist destinations of Phuket, Krabi and Phang-Nga.
Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said a warning had been issued for cities all along the coast of Sumatra island.
The tremor was felt in Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and India. High-rise apartments and offices on Malaysia’s west coast shook for at least a minute.
People in Banda Aceh screamed as they jumped into cars and on the backs of motorcycles, clogging streets as they fled to high ground.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said: ``There is no tsunami reported so far, but we remain vigilant.
“Our warning system is working well, and I have ordered the national relief team to fly immediately to Aceh to ensure the situation is under control and to take any necessary action.
“Thank God, from what I heard there is neither casualties reported nor major damage in Banda Aceh or other places,” he added.
There was chaos in the country’s streets, with fierce shaking continuing for nearly four minutes.
Patients in several cities poured out of hospitals, some with drips still attached to their arms. In some places, electricity was briefly cut.
“It wasn’t the strongest quake I’ve felt,” said 22-year-old Tuti Rahmi, while trying to reach her brother by phone.
“But it seemed to last forever,” she said. “Hopefully there won’t be too much damage.”
An hour after the tremor people were still standing outside their homes and offices, afraid to go back inside.
There were several strong aftershocks.
“I was in the shower on the fifth floor of my hotel,” Timbang Pangaribuan said from the city of Medan.
“We all ran out. ... We’re all standing outside now.”
He said one guest was injured when he jumped from the window of his room.
India’s Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning for parts of the eastern Andaman and Nicobar islands.
In Tamil Nadu in southern India, police cordoned off the beach and used loudspeakers to warn people to leave the area.
Satheesh Shenoi, director of India’s Tsunami Warning Centre said the chance of a tsunami was diminishing.
“There are no indications of tsunami wave; the instruments are not showing any sea level change,” he said.
The quake was felt in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where many people in the city’s commercial Motijheel district left their offices and homes in panic and ran into the streets. No damage or causalities were reported.
In Male, the capital of the Maldives, buildings were evacuated.
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