MANILA, Philippines – Indonesia lifted a tsunami warning which was issued following a massive 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra island Wednesday, April 11.
“People can return to their homes,” Sri Woro Harijono, head of Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said on Metro TV.
Panicked residents, remembering a 2004 tsunami that killed 170,000 people on Sumatra’s Aceh province, poured out of their homes and fled coastal areas after the massive quake, which was followed by an 8.2-magnitude aftershock.
Indonesia cancelled the warning shortly after the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii lifted its Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert.
At least 3 tsunamis of up to 80 centimetres (31 inches) hit Indonesia’s coast after the initial earthquake, BMKG monitor Said Kristiawan told AFP before the warning was lifted.
“Our tide gauges and buoys recorded small tsunamis,” he said, adding that the highest was in Meulaboh in western Aceh, “measuring 80 centimetres”. He said other smaller ones were recorded in nearby coastal regions.
The US Geological Survey said the initial quake struck 431 kilometres (268 miles) off Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.
“So far, there is no report of significant damages and casualties,” Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said after the first shock.
The Philippines was not included in the tsunami watch. Philippine authorities have allayed fears of a tsunami in the country.
The quakes caused power outages in Aceh, and evacuation there is underway.
One-meter tsunamis detected
Citing Indonesia’s disaster agency, reports said that 1-meter tsunamis were detected in Nias Island off Southern Sumatra and Meulaboh in Aceh.
The quakes were felt as far away as Bangkok, Thailand and southern India.
The earlier tsunami watch led officials to shut down the international airport in the beach resort province of Phuket in Thailand.
The tsunami watch brought back memories of the 2004 tsunami that killed about 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. – with reports from Agence France-Presse