April 11th, 2012
09:04 AM ET

Magnitude 8.6 quake strikes off the Indonesian island of Sumatra

A massive earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Wednesday, triggering a tsunami watch for the Indian Ocean.

The magnitude 8.6 quake struck about 500 kilometers from Indonesia's Aceh province, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It took place at a depth of 33 kilometers.

Are you there? Send your images, video to iReport

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a tsunami watch for the entire Indian Ocean, but the watch has been cancelled.

Banda Aceh was devastated by a tsunami resulting from an earthquake in December 2004.

[Updated at 9:04 a.m. ET] The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has cancelled its tsunami watch in the Indian Ocean.

"Sea level readings now indicate that the threat had diminished or is over for most areas," the center said.

[Updated at 8:34 a.m. ET] CNN's Kathy Quiano reports that officials have said about 14 aftershocks have rocked Indonesia after the initial 8.6 magnitude earthquake.

Officials are still telling residents to saying stay away from the coastline.

"We are hearing that many residents are choosing to stay away from their homes and have sought shelter on safer and higher ground," Quiano reported, noting that many of the people had taken part in regular drills given that they are prone to quakes and the devastation caused by the 2004 quake.

[Updated at 8:15 a.m. ET] Barry Hirshorn, a geophysicist from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told CNN that while the earthquake was a 8.6 magnitude and is considered large, it could be much different than the 9.0 magnitude quake that hit in 2004. Because the epicenter of this recent quake is also nearly double the distance offshore, it also means that it could be less likely to create a massive tsunami.

Hirshorn added that was also largely in part to how the rupture of the earth took place in this tsunami. Hirshorn explained that the earthquake in 2004 made more of a vertical motion, which would produce larger waves, while this strike-slip earthquake creates more side-to-side motion.

"Tusnami-wise, we are lucky that way, for now," he said.

Interactive: World's biggest quakes  | How do you measure an earthquake?

[Updated at 8:12 a.m. ET]  A spokesperson for the Indonesian president said the situation in the country is under control but he still anticipates that tsunamis may hit the area.

Teuku Faizasyah said right now it is most important to ensure people that they are safe. Search and rescue teams have been deployed.

"What's important is to bring confidence among the people that the government is with them, that we are ensuring their safety," he told CNN.

Tsunami warnings are in place for another hour, he added, saying they will watch the remote areas of the country especially closely.

"We are really waiting to hear from the isolated areas, but hopefully we wont receive any bad news," Faizasyah  said.

[Updated at 8:01  a.m. ET]  Waves were reported at 1-meter (3.3-feet) amplitude offshore in Meulaboh, Indonesia, but in other cities they were reported at about a foot or less, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

A series of buoys also measured changes in wave height levels, indicating a tsunami could occur. Waves are normally small when they are out in the ocean, but are expected to be much higher when they reach the shore.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Britain "stands ready to help if required."

[Updated at 7:44 a.m. ET] An evacuation order has been given by Thailand's National Disaster Warning Center for those along the Andaman coast after the earthquake, according to CNN affiliate MCOT.

The warning center's director Somsak Khaosuwann "urged people along the sea in the Andaman coastal provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Phang-nga, Ranong, Trang and Satun to evacuate to higher ground," according to MCOT.

MCOT, also known as Thai TV 9, noted that tremors were felt as far as Bangkok.

In the Maldives, some resorts were evacuated in advance of possible waves, according to CNN's Erin Burnett, who was on vacation in the region.

[Updated at 7:23 a.m. ET] Shimon Dewan, 35,who  lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh, said that he was finishing his lunch with work colleagues when they felt the tremors and the office was shaking. They left the office and went outside into the courtyard in front of the building.

He sent in a video to CNN's iReport and said that it was the longest earthquake or tremor he has ever felt, lasting about 30 seconds.

iReport: Tremors felt in Bangladesh

[Updated at 7:09 a.m. ET] There has been a magnitude 8.2 aftershock off the western coast of Northern Sumatra, according to the USGS. The aftershock was 328 miles south-southwest from Bada Ache, Sumatra in Indonesia and 659 miles from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

iReport: Moving to higher ground in Thailand

[Updated at 6:30 a.m. ET]  Australian seismologist Gary Gibson tells CNN it is less likely that a tsunami will be generated as the earthquake moved horizontally rather than vertically, as happened in 2004.

[Updated at 6:24 a.m. ET]  Indonesia's president says there is no immediate threat of a tsunami from earthquake. He was speaking at a joint press conference in Jakarta with visiting UK Prime Minister David Cameron, ITN's Gary Gibbon tells CNN.

[Updated at 6:18 a.m. ET] According to Andaman Nicobar islands disaster-management commissioner Punya Salila Srivastava there’s NO report of any tsunami generation along the Indian archipelago so far. ]

“There’s no update. Nothing to say more at the moment,” she said.

She told CNN authorities have “downgraded the warning” to an “alert” in Car Nicobar, the northernmost of the Nicobar region.

[Updated at 5:55 a.m ET] The earthquake that struck Wednesday off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra was downgraded to a magnitude 8.6, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

[Updated at 5:35 a.m. ET] The power has gone out in Banda Aceh and residents are moving to higher ground, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency.

The extent of the damage is still being assessed.

In 2004, a 9.1-magnitude underwater earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people in 14 countries. Aceh was one of the worse affected areas.

The tsunami, which washed away entire communities, caused nearly $10 billion in damage and more casualties than any other tsunami in history, according to the United Nations.

Since then, officials have worked to improve warning systems and have carried out drills in the region.

Indonesia is on the so-called Ring of Fire, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

- CNN's Kathy Quiano and Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report.

soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Saf

    But Bruce Presgrave of the USGS said that the nature of this quake made it less likely a tsunami would be generated, as the earth had moved horizontally, rather than vertically, therefore had not displaced large volumes of water.

    "We can't rule out the possibility, but horizontal motion is less likely to produce a destructive tsunami," he said.

    Please stop trying to create chaos Jack.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. Don

    Im in colombo, Sri lanka & here we are still waiting..... Local News said that waves will reach colombo exactly after 1 hour....

    April 11, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. mark ilvedson

    Man, thinking of all of you in the regions that may be affected... I was in Thailand - Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, and Railay - a little of two years ago and just in Bali only last month - Ubud, Lovina, Amed, and the Gili Islands. Hope none of these areas sustain any damage or worse! Everybody there was so lovely and so nice... My two greatest vacations ever... Kind of freaked out. Originally, we had planned to go to Bali this month, and right now is our original itinerary... Sure wish more news would come in... Thinking of you all.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. charlie king

    We pray for everyone out there.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jonathan

    Here in Colombo Srilanka we felt a gentle rocking motion and the water bottle on my table proved that I was not mistaken. The water in the bottle was disturbed. We need to know is there any tsunami wave coming....coutries keep in touch

    April 11, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. jack

    warning evacuate now! in my Private helicopter 400m above the tsunami of coast of Indonesia it heading towards the beach!

    April 11, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Neale

      Double idiot.

      April 11, 2012 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
    • SRN

      How do you know that there is a tsunami heading to the beach? Do you have visuals to show?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chaitanya

    Tremors felt in Bangalore also and one of the glasses in our office building is broken.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ken

    Office buildings in Bangalore was vacated. ITPL, RMZ Infinity, Manyata Embassy were some prominent ones.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. jack

    building has just fallen down huge dust cloud.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. jack

    i am in a helicopter

    April 11, 2012 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      jack,will u plz tell us what is the situation nw? Is it vertical or horizontal?

      April 11, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Jind

      Bloody Jack, i hope you suffer a terrible day today and hopefully u break a bone or 2 or 3 in time to come. U can laugh and joke abt things like that when people are dying/in terrrible state of shock..... i curse people like you.... in fact i feel sorry for you cos idiots like u probably got no life and no friends.... f off

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tesjay

    All coastal areas of Sri Lanka on full alert. Train and bus services in coastal roads have been suspended. Electric power supply to coastal areas has been cut. People are being evacuated from danger zones.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. John

    And the Indonesian President says that there i no immediate danger. How the hell could he know?

    April 11, 2012 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. jack

    the wave 100 meats away from the coast! WARNING

    April 11, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  14. AmyC

    We are in Phuket, Kata Beach, Tsunami Warning sirens went off, it's at least an hour since and we are waiting to see whether a Tsunami is coming. The news websites are not yet publishing whether or not a Tsunami has been generated.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. mark ilvedson

    Jack. Really. It's just not funny.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10