Huge Quakes Off Indonesia Stir Panic, But No Big Tsunami
By Reza Munawir, Reuters, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Apr 11, 2012
(Reuters) – A powerful 8.6 magnitude earthquake and a series of
strong aftershocks struck off Indonesia on Wednesday, sending people
scurrying from buildings as far away as southern India, but there seemed
little risk of a disastrous tsunami as in 2004.
Indonesia said it was checking for damage and casualties but
remarkably, no such reports had been received for several hours after
the quakes, including in Aceh, the closest province and the area
decimated by the disaster eight years ago.
However, some areas close to the epicentre are remote so it could take some time to find out if there was any damage.
Many people were frightened of further tremors.
“It’s dark out here but I am scared to go home,” said Mila, a
41-year-old woman taking refuge in the grand mosque in the town of Banda
Aceh, the provincial capital.
“I just want to stay alert because I fear there will be more quakes
coming. We are human, it is only natural that we have fear, but I really
wish we will all be safe.”
Waves of up to one metre (3.3 feet) high were seen near islands off
Aceh, but Indonesia cancelled a warning for fresh tsunamis. It said the
worst-hit area was the thinly populated island of Simeulue, off Aceh’s
The first quake struck at 0838 GMT and an 8.2 magnitude aftershock
just over two hours later, at 1043 GMT. Two more strong aftershocks hit
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also withdrew tsunami
warnings for the entire Indian Ocean after keeping them in force for
“Level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas,” the agency’s bulletin said.
Thailand and India also withdrew tsunami warnings.
Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India were all badly hit in 2004.
At least 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries were killed in the
Boxing Day disaster that year, including 170,000 in and around Aceh
Last year, an earthquake and tsunami off Japan’s northeastern coast
killed at least 23,000 people and triggered the world’s worst nuclear
crisis in 25 years after waves battered a nuclear power station.
On Wednesday, people near the coast in six Thai provinces were
ordered to move to higher ground. Authorities shut down the
international airport in the Thai beach resort province of Phuket.
The quakes were about 300 miles (500 km) southwest of Banda Aceh, on
the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, the U.S. Geological
survey said. The first was at a depth of 20.5 miles (33 km).
Indonesia’s disaster management agency said power failed in Aceh
province and people were gathering on high ground as sirens warned of
“The electricity is down, there are traffic jams to access higher
ground. Sirens and Koran recitals from mosques are everywhere,” said
Sutopo, spokesman for the agency.
“The warning system worked,” Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said….
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