A strong 8.6 Magnitude quake struck Indonesia early Wednesday.
The quake struck off the west coast of northern Sumatra at 2:38 p.m. at its epicenter. The quake struck 269 miles from Aceh province and was centered 20 miles beneath the ocean floor.
The region was struck with a massive aftershock only hours later.
A 8.2 Magnitude quake struck the same area at 4:43 p.m. at its epicenter. The quake struck 384 miles southwest from Aceh province.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center 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, reported ABC.
According to CBS, Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Center issued an evacuation order to residents in six provinces along the country’s west coast and India’s Tsunami Warning Center issued a warning for parts of the eastern Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later lifted the tsunami watch for most areas of the Indian Ocean saying, “The tsunami watch is cancelled for both main shock and aftershock.”
“A significant tsunami was generated by this earthquake. However…sea level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas. Therefore the tsunami watch issued by this center is now cancelled,” said The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
“For affected areas, when no major waves have occurred for at least two hours after the estimated arrival time or damaging waves have not occurred for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is passed. Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several hours due to rapid currents.”
This past January, the region was rocked by another strong quake. On January 10, a 7.3 Magnitude quake struck 260 miles off the coast of Aceh province. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a statement saying “a destructive widespread tsunami threat does not exist,” but warned local agencies within 100 kilometers of the epicenter to watch for a local tsunami.
An official with Indonesia’s geological agency confirmed that a tsunami warning had been issued along the Sumatran coast.
Indonesia is part of the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcano eruptions occur. On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean just off Sumatra’s west coast. It triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries, with the highest number in the Banda Aceh province.