Two strong earthquakes in the Indian Ocean, located off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, have triggered tsunami warnings across the region.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) reported the first quake at 2:38 PM local time [4:38 AM EDT], with a magnitude of 8.6. It reported that the second quake, with a magnitude of 8.2, occurred at 4.43 PM local time [6:43 AM EDT].
Both of the quakes occurred at a depth of 16.4 kms – 10.2 miles – below sea level. The closest land exposed to a potential tsunami is Banda Aceh on Sumatra, which is around 618 kms – 384 miles – from the epicenter.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued an advisory to all countries potentially at risk in the Indian Ocean region to “take appropriate action.”
News reports from Thailand noted that tsunami warnings were in place, and that all local beaches had been cleared. People in and around Banda Aceh were reported heading for higher ground away from the sea.
The area was the center of destruction from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2004, which killed at least 170,000 people in Aceh, and another 70,000 around the region, including casualties in countries as far away as Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Sources: U.S. Geological Survey and news reports