Residents flee in fear after Indonesia quake
Jakarta - An 8.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia on Wednesday, sending residents around the region dashing out of their homes and offices in fear.
A tsunami watch was issued for the whole Indian Ocean.
The quake struck 500km southwest of the city of Banda Aceh, on the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island, at a depth of 33km, the US Geological survey said.
Indonesia's disaster management agency said power was down in Aceh province and people were gathering on high ground as sirens warned of the danger.
"The electricity is down, there are traffic jams to access higher ground. Sirens and Qur’an recitals from mosques are everywhere," said Sutopo, spokesperson for the agency.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a tsunami watch was in effect for the entire Indian Ocean.
The quake was felt as far away as the Thai capital, Bangkok, and in southern India, residents said.
Hundreds of office workers in the Indian city of Bangalore left their buildings, workers there said.
No tsunami warning in Thailand yet
The quake was in roughly in the same area as a December 26 2004 quake of 9.1 magnitude, which sent huge tsunami waves crashing into Sumatra, where 170 000 people were killed, and across the Indian Ocean.
In all, the 2004 tsunami killed about 230 000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka and India.
The 2004 quake was at a depth of 30km along a fault line running under the Indian Ocean, off western Indonesia and up into the Bay of Bengal.
Wednesday's quake was also felt in Sri Lanka, where office workers in the capital, Colombo, fled their offices, and the southern Thai holiday island of Phuket, both of which were hit hard by the 2004 tsunami.
Thai Meteorological Department deputy chief Somchai Baimoung said there was no tsunami warning yet in Thailand. Provincial officials along the Andaman Sea coast were preparing for evacuation if necessary.
In Bangladesh, where two tremors were felt, authorities also said there appeared to be no threat of a tsunami.