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8.6 magnitude quake triggers tsunami warning for 28 countries

11 April, 2012

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JAKARTA: Southeast Asian nations issued tsunami alerts and urged people to move to safety away from coastlines after a massive 8.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra Wednesday.

Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia issued evacuation instructions as US monitors issued an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami watch after the quake, which according to the US Geological Survey struck off the coast of Sumatra at 2:38 pm (0838 GMT) at a depth of 22 kilometres (13.7 miles).

USGS had initially reported it as an 8.9-magnitude quake.

An analyst at Indonesia's Geophysics and Meteorology agency said five of the nation's provinces -- Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Bengkulu and Lampung -- were at potential risk.

Sri Lanka and India issued tsunami warnings while Thailand urged people on the Andaman coast, a popular tourist destination, to move to safety. Malaysia ordered a coastal evacuation.

A Sri Lanka government statement said potential waves could hit the island's eastern coast by about 10:40 GMT and urged an orderly evacuation of the coastal strip.

"There is a strong possibility of a tsunami hitting the island after the earthquake in Indonesia," meteorological department deputy director M. D. Dayananda said.

He said the quake in Indonesia was felt in Sri Lanka, which is 1,340 kilometres (840 miles) northwest of the quake epicentre.

India issued a tsunami warning for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service issued a red high-level warning for the islands, and also put out lower alerts for the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states in the southeast of the country.

Thailand's National Disaster Warning Centre advised people in the area to move to higher places and stay as far away as possible from the sea. The quake swayed buildings in the capital Bangkok.

Australian Bonnie Muddle, vacationing on the Thai resort island of Phuket at the time of the quake, said people were being evacuated from popular tourist areas including Krabi and Phang Nga Bay.

"Everyone is getting a little concerned over here," she told AFP.

On December 26, 2004 a 9.2-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra generated a catastrophic tsunami that wrought devastation across southern Asia, killing an estimated 220,000 people.

Last year, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, killing some 19,000 people.

On Wednesday Japan's Meteorological Agency said that there was no risk of a tsunami affecting Japanese coasts.

Geoscience Australia, Canberra's geohazards agency, said there was no risk to Australia from the jolt. Taiwan and New Zealand also said the earthquake posed no threat to them.

End.

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