Please download Flash from the Adobe download website.
4:02pm UK, Wednesday April 11, 2012
Tsunami warnings triggered by a powerful earthquake and aftershock off the coast of Indonesia have been lifted in countries surrounding the Indian Ocean.
An 8.6-magnitude earthquake southwest of Indonesia’s Sumatra island on Wednesday morning (GMT) was followed hours later by an 8.2-magnitude aftershock.
Tsunami warnings were issued in countries around the region, including in India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Terrified people fled their homes and headed for higher ground, as disaster officials scrambled to assess the nature of the seismic events.
The US Geological Survey said the first quake originated 20 miles (33km) underground and 271 miles (437km) from Banda Aceh, on Sumatra.
The second incident was detected 10 miles (16km) beneath the ocean floor and some 383 miles (617km) from the Indonesian town.
Just before the powerful aftershock, reports had said the sea at Simeulue Island, south of Sumatra, had receded by about 10 metres.
Location of initial earthquake and powerful aftershock off the coast of Indonesia
But other reports from around the region suggested the tremors were not as serious as first feared.
Tsunamis of up to 80cm (31in) hit Indonesia in at least three places, according to the country’s meteorological agency.
Indonesian cabinet minister Anudith Nakornthap said: “After checking all information, we found that the situation is stable.
“There was a small tsunami, but there was no impact.”
Hours later, most countries that had issued tsunami warnings had downgraded the advice, and there were no reports of damage or casualties.
The initial earthquake and tsunami warning had sparked panic around the Indian Ocean.
Residents along India’s east coast were told to move away from the shoreline, as were people on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while Sri Lanka also urged those on the coast to move inland.
A warning was also issued for six provinces in Thailand, including Phuket and Phangnga, with people advised to move away from the ocean.
Britons holidaying in southeast Asia were told to follow local advice following the tremors and tsunami warnings.
A Foreign Office said British nationals in the region should monitor media reports and “call home to let family know they are safe”.
:: Live updates on the Indonesian earthquake and aftershock
The general manager of the Ramada Resort in Khao Lak, Phangnga, told Sky News he was evacuating his guests to higher ground and believed all other hotels in the area were doing the same thing.
The international airport on the tourist island of Phuket was also closed.
Earlier, Indonesia’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters in Jakarta: “Our warning system is working well.”
He added: “I have ordered the national relief team to fly immediately to Aceh to ensure the situation is under control and to take any necessary action.”
The original quake was felt in Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Indian cities of Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.
Terrified residents in Indonesia cowered on the ground outside their homes as the earth shook beneath them, while in Thailand, people also poured into the streets.
Kenya even issued a tsunami warning along its Indian Ocean coastline following the quake, as did Tanzania, with fishermen urged to “keep off the sea”.
Banda Aceh was near the epicentre of the devastating 2004 quake that triggered a tsunami across the Indian Ocean, which killed 170,000 people.