Tremors were felt as far away as Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and India. The French island of Reunion was also on alert.
A massive earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Wednesday afternoon, triggering a tsunami alert for the Indian Ocean. The quake struck about 434 kilometers (270 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, and had a magnitude of 8.6, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was initially reported as 8.9 magnitude but was later revised down to 8.6 by the USGS. It took place at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles), according to CNN reports. A second quake, magnitude 8.2, occurred off the west coast of Sumatra about two hours later, the USGS said.Gary Gibson from the Seismology Research Center in Melbourne, Australia, said the location of the second quake reduces the possibility of a tsunami. There were no immediate reports of destruction or deaths Wednesday.Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on local television that there were no reports of casualties or damage in Aceh. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch for the entire Indian Ocean, and the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said it had put up a tsunami warning as well.Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated, the warning center said. “It may already have been destructive along some coasts.” The earthquake appears to have involved a horizontal movement rather than a vertical movement, so it is less likely that it will generate a tsunami, Gibson said.He also said that the tremor took place a long way offshore and was therefore unlikely to have caused much damage itself. Waves were reported at 1-meter (3.3-foot) amplitude offshore in Meulaboh, Indonesia, but in other cities they were reported at about a foot or less, according to the warning center, the BBC reports.