|Huge Earthquake Off Sumatra; Tsunami Feared
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|Author:||Guest [ Tue Mar 29, 2005 12:23 am ]|
|Post subject:||Huge Earthquake Off Sumatra; Tsunami Feared|
Huge Earthquake Off Sumatra; Tsunami Feared
A massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra March 28, 2005 close to where a quake triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing across Asia, residents and officials said. The latest quake had the potential to cause a 'widely destructive tsunami' and authorities should take 'immediate action,' including evacuating coastlines within 600 miles of the epicenter, the Pacific tsunami warning center said. (@ Reuters Graphic)
JAKARTA (Reuters) - A massive 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra Monday close to where a quake triggered a tsunami that left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing across Asia, residents and officials said.
The latest quake had the potential to cause a "widely destructive tsunami" and authorities should take "immediate action," including evacuating coastlines within 600 miles of the epicenter, the Pacific tsunami warning center said.
One official said any possible tsunami could be headed toward the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, but Indonesia's Metro TV quoted a resident on the island of Nias, off western Sumatra, as saying buildings there were damaged.
"Things are quite bad right now," the resident said. "There is much damage. People are running in panic. Many people are also trapped."
He did not elaborate on what he meant by people were "trapped."
Tens of thousands of people across northern and western Sumatra fled their homes and drove or ran to higher ground, TV and residents said.
Thailand urged people living along parts of its west coast, including tourists on the resort island of Phuket, to evacuate while Malaysia issued a warning to coastal residents.
"About 3,000 to 4,000 tourists and locals have been evacuated from Patong and Kamala beaches to higher places," Phuket deputy governor Wichai Buapradit told Reuters.
"We've told them to take their valuable belongings and to go to higher places," he added.
Authorities in India's Andaman and Nicobar islands, north of the epicenter, issued a preliminary tsunami warning as did the federal government in New Delhi. Sirens were ringing in the eastern Sri Lankan town of Trincomalee and many coastal areas were evacuated, residents said.
NO REPORTS OF TSUNAMI
Indonesia's information minister said there were no reports of a tsunami along the coast.
"There is no report of any damage," the Andaman and Nicobar islands' Lieutenant-Governor Ram Kapse told Reuters by telephone. "We have issued an initial warning. If there is any problem, we will evacuate."
A spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey (news - web sites) told Reuters the quake struck 125 miles west northwest of Sibolga, Sumatra or 880 miles northwest of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta at 1609 GMT, close to where the 9.0 magnitude quake struck in December.
It was felt as far away as Singapore and the Malaysian coastal city of Penang, jolting people out of their beds just past midnight.
"It felt stronger than on Dec. 26," said Arumugam Gopal, a resident of Penang.
A telephone operator in the Sumatran city of Medan said: "It was very strong. We all ran out of the building."
An NGO official in Banda Aceh, the town worst hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami, sent out a telephone message saying thousands of people fled their homes and headed for higher ground after feeling what he described as "a very damn big earthquake."
U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Don Blakeman said Monday's quake was considered a "great earthquake" because it was larger than a magnitude 8. He said it was an aftershock from December's temblor but was a "very serious earthquake in its own right."
But the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake had the "potential to generate a widely destructive tsunami in the ocean or seas near the earthquake."
"Authorities can assume the danger has passed if no tsunami waves are observed in the region near the epicenter within three hours of the earthquake," it added.
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