Two massive earthquakes struck off the coast of Indonesia Wednesday afternoon, prompting the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to issue tsunami watches for the entire Indian Ocean. Both watches were lifted several hours later when waves of no more than 4 feet were reported in coastal areas.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, both earthquakes struck off the coast of Sumatra Island. The first tremor had a magnitude of 8.6 and struck at a depth of 14 miles at 2:38 p.m. local time. The epicenter was located about 270 miles southwest of the Aceh province capital of Banda Aceh. Two hours later, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck off Sumatra’s west coast.
Both tremors were felt in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Bangladesh and India. Evacuations began almost immediately in Indonesia, mainly in Aceh province where many residents lost loved ones in the 2004 tsunami that took 230,000 lives in 14 countries. In Thailand, authorities ordered evacuations along the west coast. Areas of the Maldives were also evacuated.
Indonesian authorities say neither earthquake caused major damages. No deaths or injuries have been reported.
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