Indonesia issued a tsunami warning Wednesday after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.5 hit waters off westernmost Aceh province.
Said, an official at Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency who
goes by only one name, said a tsunami warning has been issued for Aceh,
West Sumatra, North Sumatra, Lampung and Bengkulu. The tsunami was
expected to reach Aceh at 4:31 p.m.
According to Metro TV, traffic was chaotic Wednesday afternoon in Banda
Aceh as people flee coastal areas for higher ground in the east. Power
and internet is reportedly down in the provincial capita.
In Padang, hospitals are reportedly evacuating patients from the building.
Thailand issued an evacuation order Wednesday for its Andaman coast, a
popular tourist destination, after a massive earthquake off Indonesia
triggered a tsunami alert.
Thailand’s National Disaster Warning
Center advised people in the area to move to higher places and stay as
far away as possible from the sea.
People on Twitter said tremors were felt in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India. High-rise apartments and offices on Malaysia’s west coast shook for at least a minute. In Bangalore, India hundreds of office workers left their buildings, workers there said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the powerful quake was centered 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor around 308 miles (495 kilometers) from Aceh’s provincial capital.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a tsunami warning for the following 27 countries: Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Burma, Thailand, Maldives, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Reunion, Seychelles, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Comores, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, South Africa and Singapore.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, nearly three quarter of them in Aceh.
JG/ AP/ Reuters/ AFP