Jakarta: Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday said that there was no tsunami threat and no casualties reported after a strong quake measuring 8.6 and a series of aftershocks struck the nation’s western coast.
According to USGS, the aftershock, that was 8.1 in magnituide centered around 10 miles beneath the ocean, around 380 miles (615 kilometers) from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
The first 8.7-magnitude quake had struck off the Aceh province in Sumatra islands spawning a wave around 30 inches high but caused no serious damage.
A local official named Harjadi said the new tsunami warning was for residents living along the western coast of the country.
It included Sumatra island and the Mentawai islands.
"There is no tsunami threat although we are on alert," said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The President also said that there were no casualties reported so far.
"The situation in Aceh is under control, there's a little bit of panic but people can go to higher ground," Yudhoyono said, adding that he had ordered a disaster relief team to fly to Aceh, which was devastated by a 2004 tsunami.
When Prih Harjadi, from Indonesia's geophysics agency, told TVOne in a live interview that fresh tsunami warning had been issued, the residents in Aceh could hardly believe it.
“What did we do to deserve this?” cried Aisyah Husaini, 47, who lost both her parents and a son in the 2004 tsunami. “What sins have we committed?”
“I'm so scared, I don't want to lose my family again,” she said, clinging to her two children in a mosque in Banda Aceh, where hundreds of people sheltered.
Again, though, the threat quickly passed.
Experts said Wednesday's quakes did not have the potential to create massive tsunamis because the friction and shaking occurred horizontally, not vertically. The earth's tectonic plates slid against each other, creating more of a vibration in the water.
In contrast, mega-thrust quakes cause the seabed to rise or drop vertically, displacing massive amounts of water and sending towering waves racing across the ocean at jetliner speeds.
Roger Musson, seismologist at the British geological survey who has studied Sumatra's fault lines, said initially he'd been “fearing the worst.”
“But as soon as I discovered what type of earthquake it was ... I felt a lot better.”
Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines, hence is vulnerable 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, most of them in Aceh.
With Agencies’ inputs
First Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 17:11