Earthquake News

Huge earthquakes off Indonesia cause alarm, but no major tsunami.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - On Wednesday, a strong 8.6 magnitude earthquake and several strong aftershocks struck off Indonesia, forcing people to flee their homes as far away as southern India. However, there appeared to be little risk of a devasting tsunami similar to the one that struck in 2004.

Even in Aceh, the nearest province and the region that was devastated by the disaster eight years ago, no reports of damage or casualties had been received for several hours after the quakes, as Indonesia claimed to be doing.

It might take some time to determine whether there was any damage, though, since some of the isolated locations near to the epicenter are.

There was widespread fear of more tremors.

Mila, a 41-year-old lady seeking safety in the magnificent mosque in the town of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, said, "It's dark out here, but I'm terrified to go home."

We are all human, so it is only natural that we have fear, but I sincerely hope we will all be safe. I simply want to be vigilant because I fear there will be more quakes coming.

Despite seeing waves as high as one meter (3.3 feet) in the islands off Aceh, Indonesia cancelled a tsunami warning. The sparsely populated island of Simeulue, off the southern coast of Aceh, was described as being the worst-hit location.

A 8.2 magnitude aftershock occurred at 6.43 a.m. EDT, slightly over two hours after the initial earthquake that occurred at 4.38 a.m.

The whole Indian Ocean was also subject to a tsunami warning that was later revoked by the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

The advisory from the EPA stated that "level readings presently indicate that the hazard has lessened or is over for most regions."

Tsunami warnings were also withdrawn for Thailand and India.

2004 was a terrible year for Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. The Boxing Day tragedy that year claimed at least 230,000 lives across 13 nations in the Indian Ocean, including 170,000 in and around Aceh alone.

The world's worst nuclear disaster in the past 25 years began last year when an earthquake and tsunami off the northeastern coast of Japan killed at least 23,000 people.

People in six Thai provinces were told to move to higher ground on Wednesday if they were close to the coast. The international airport in Phuket, a province known for its beach resorts, was closed by authorities.

On the northernmost tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, roughly 300 miles southwest of Banda Aceh, the earthquakes occurred. based on geological survey. The first was 20.5 miles below the surface.

Power was lost in the province of Aceh, according to Indonesia's disaster management organization, and residents gathered on hillsides as sirens warned of impending peril.

Sirens and Koran recitals from mosques are everywhere, and there are traffic bottlenecks to go to higher ground, according to Sutopo, the agency's spokesman.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the president of Indonesia, declared that "the warning system functioned."

Phuket, a popular tourist destination in Thailand and one of the regions most severely affected by the tsunami of 2004, was also covered in warning sirens.

Everyone appeared to be acting calmly because the warning had been issued in advance, according to freelance journalist Apichai Thonoy, who spoke to Reuters by phone. "Guests from expensive hotels overlooking Phuket's beaches were evacuated to the hills behind and local people were driving away in cars and on motorcycles."

OUT IN THE PUBLIC

People were seen congregating in Banda Aceh mosques on Indonesian television. Others were cradling crying youngsters on the streets.

A hospital in the city of Medan evacuated its patients, who were pushed out in wheelchairs and on beds.

The earthquakes on Wednesday were felt as far away as Bangkok, Thailand. In southern India, hundreds of office workers in Bangalore evacuated their buildings, and Chennai's port was shut down due to tsunami worries.

The 2004 earthquake, which occurred at a depth of 18 miles along a fault line running under the Indian Ocean, off western Indonesia, and up into the Bay of Bengal, was roughly in the same region as the recent earthquakes.

The Wednesday quakes, according to experts, were caused by a "strike-slip" fault, which means there was less likelihood of a major water displacement causing a tsunami because there was a more gradual horizontal shift of the ground beneath the sea than a quick vertical shift.

According to David Rothery, a specialist at the Open University in the U.K., "the type of the sideways breach and sideways movement is not prone to generate a bad tsunami, thus virtually probably, the crisis has been avoided."

Office workers in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, fled their workplaces as a result of the quakes, which were also felt there.

Sri Lanka's minister for disaster management, Mahinda Amaraweera, issued a calm call while urging those who were close to the coast to seek safety.

Amaraweera told a private news channel, "I urge the people not to panic. We have time if there is going to be a tsunami. So please evacuate if you are in the coastal area and migrate to safer places."

Authorities in Bangladesh, where two tremors were reported, stated that it didn't seem like a tsunami was in danger. There was no tsunami threat, according to Australia.

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