JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesia issued a tsunami warning Wednesday after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.9 hit waters off westernmost Aceh province.
People on Twitter said tremors were felt in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India. High-rise apartments and offices on Malaysia’s west coast shook for at least a minute.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.
Thailand issued an evacuation order for its Andaman coast, a magnet for foreign tourists, after a massive earthquake off Indonesia triggered a tsunami alert.
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.
“All people along the Andaman coast must evacuate to safe areas. We expect a tsunami 1.6 to 2.0 metres high to hit Phuket and Phang Nga at 5:40 pm (1040 GMT),” the centre’s director Somsak Khaosuwan said on Thai television.
A tsunami watch means there is the potential for a tsunami, not that one is imminent.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the powerful quake was centered 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor around 308 miles (495 kilometers) from Aceh’s provincial capital.
Said, an official at Indonesia’s Meteorology and Geophysics Agency who goes by only one name, said a tsunami warning has been issued.
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, nearly three quarter of them in Aceh.