SOUTHEAST ASIA (BP) — A massive earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia Wednesday, triggering a tsunami alert for the entire Indian Ocean for several hours.
The initial 8.6-magnitude quake struck 14 miles under the ocean and about 270 miles from Banda Aceh. A second quake, magnitude 8.2, hit two hours later.
The tremors were felt as far away as Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.
Earthquakes regularly hit this region, which sits on an arc of fault lines known as the “ring of fire.” The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed 170,000 people in Aceh, Indonesia, alone and some 250,000 around the region.
As the first quake hit Wednesday, cries of warnings echoed throughout communities. The tremor lasted nearly five minutes. People rushed to higher ground as memories of the 2004 disaster remain fresh. That tsunami, which washed away entire communities, caused more casualties than any other tsunami in history, according to the United Nations.
IMB personnel in all the affected countries are safe and took to higher ground as tsunami warnings were issued. Small waves reportedly began hitting the coastline a few hours after the earthquake, but there have been no immediate reports of destruction or death.
Damage assessment will begin Thursday.
Reported by the communications staff of the International Mission Board.