Countries across the Indian Ocean issued tsunami warnings following a large earthquake in the waters off Indonesia this morning.
Following the 8.6 magnitude quake which was centered a little more than 300 miles from Banda Aceh, people raced from their homes and headed to higher ground.
The large quake was felt in Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and India. As a precaution a tsunami watch has been issued for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Australia.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters Wednesday that while no tsunami has been reported yet, the government remains vigilant.
“Our warning system is working well, and I have ordered the national relief team to fly immediately to Aceh to ensure the situation is under control and to take any necessary action,” he said.
In 2004 a similar earthquake in the region resulted in a tsunami that killed over 230,000 people in 14 countries including Indonesia which was the hardest hit country followed by Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.
The 2004 earthquake was magnitude 9.3, making it the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. It also had the longest duration of faulting ever observed lasting between 8.3 and 10 minutes.
The region is prone to earthquakes with Indonesia lying between the Pacific Ring of Fire along the northeastern islands adjacent to and including New Guinea. The Ring of fire is a large horseshoe shaped area where large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.
The Ring of fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world active and dominant volcanoes. Approximately 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.
One of the reasons for the high death toll in 2004 was the lack of an early warning system in the Indian Ocean at the time.
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