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11th April 2012
An 8.7 magnitude earthquake has struck off the west coast of northern Sumatra, putting all countries in the Indian Ocean basin on tsunami alert
At 14.38 (local time), an 8.7 magnitude earthquake rattled much of South-East Asia for up to five minutes. An aftershock has since hit the same region, registering 8.3 on the Richter scale. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has issued an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami warning.
Geophysicist at the Hawaii-based centre Victor Sardina told Reuters that sea level readers indicate that the first wave was 17cm tall. He added: "It doesn't look like a major tsunami. But we are still monitoring as tsunamis come in waves."
The tsunami bulletin estimates the time of arrival of the first wave in Bali to be at 12.34; Port Louis in Mauritius at 15:00; and Bombay at 16.05 (UTC). However, it advises that actual arrival times may differ. They added that the earthquake may generate a series of waves, with the largest not necessarily the first and with intervals between waves of up to an hour.
Click here to see estimated arrival times of tsunamis for all areas of the Indian Ocean.
Indonesian officials have reported power cuts in Aceh and people are fleeing to high ground. Indian officials have issued a tsunami warning for the Nicobar islands and has alerted the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh too.
Tremors were felt as far as Bangkok, Malaysia and Singapore. Countries on tsunami alert include Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, UK (Diego Garcia island), Malaysia, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Comores, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, South Africa and Singapore.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office have warned all British nationals in the area to be alert, keep up-to-date with local media and contact relatives to let them know they are safe.
The tragic Boxing day tsunami in 2004, was caused by a larger magnitude earthquake (at 9.1 on the Richter Scale). The lack of a warning system within the Indian Ocean left people unaware of the approaching danger; 230,000 people were killed.
Keep up to date with our Indonesia travel guide | Destinations... More
Indonesia’s Aceh province bore the brunt of the 2004 tsunami. Read about the story of its recovery in Back to Banda Aceh | Articles... More
Panic in Bali as earthquake strikes | News... More
Get great cover with InsureandGo Wander | Travel insurance... More
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Even some friends here in Cochin, Kerala, felt the tremor. It was a nail-biting afternoon of googling and listening to the radio on our boat here, waiting to find out if a wave was on its way. This from a friend of mine on her small yacht in Thailand:"Much excitement and tension here. Sirens going off and announcements in Thai and English, police blocking the roads so that people can't get to the beach and have to stay on high ground. Us? We stayed on the boat, had a weeny pit of a panic and burst into tears, then started putting things away 'in case'. Anchored in 7 meters on East of Chalong bay Phuket, couldn't get anywhere deeper in the time till the first wave was expected, thankfully when the tsunami hit the west coast it was 17cm and we didn't get anythng. Tsunami warnings are still in place tho."
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