Indonesia Hit By 8.6 Magnitude Earthquake
A large earthquake and aftershock struck off the coast of Indonesia this morning, sending the country into a panic.
The massive quake launched off back-to-back tsunami warnings, which were later cancelled. The 8.6 magnitude earthquake was followed by an 8.2 aftershock.
The first earthquake hit off the coast of the Indonesian Island Sumatra, which is 270 miles from Banda Aceh, the capitol of Indonesian province Aceh.
Fearing the possibility of tsunami residents headed for high lands in search of safety.
Back in Dec. 2004, Aceh was hit hard by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake. The quake set off a tsunami, which killed 170,000 in the province alone.
People evacuated the coastal area in cars, motorcycles and even hospital beds as word of the alert reached the city. The alert was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.
The initial alert advised countries that a tsunami might be headed their way. The alert was sent out across the rim of the Indian Ocean, from Australia to India and even Africa.
The only wave that came, however, was 30 inches in height.
Indonesia’s relief was short lived as an 8.2 magnitude aftershock struck soon after, prompting another tsunami alert.
This alert was later cancelled by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center a few hours later.
Experts believe that the earthquakes never had the potential to create the seismic waves initially feared.
Roger Musson, a seismologist at the British Geological Survey who has studied Indonesia’s tectonic fault lines, said that he originally feared for the worst.
“As soon as I discovered what type of earthquake it was…I felt a lot better,” said Musson.
The earthquake’s friction occurred horizontally, not vertically, which created more of a vibration in the water than a massive rise and drop, that would have produced the tsunamis feared.
Due to the tsunami in 2004, and the devastating tsunami in Japan last year, the World Meteorological Organization said that communications systems worked well in this scare.
“Our records indicate that all the national meteorological services in the countries at risk by this tsunami have received the warnings in under five minutes,” said Maryam Golnaraghi, the head of the WMO’s disaster risk reduction program.
Indonesia is on the “ring of fire,” a series of fault lines that makes the country prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.