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Panicked Residents Flee After Indonesia Earthquake

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(AFP/Getty Images)

(AFP/Getty Images)

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BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) _ A massive earthquake in the waters off the Indonesian island of Sumatra has sent panicked coastal residents across the region fleeing to higher ground.

The U.S. Geological Survey puts the quake’s magnitude at 8.6 and says it was centered 20 miles beneath the ocean floor about 270 from the capital of Aceh  province.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii issued a tsunami watch for countries across the Indian Ocean, while Indonesia officials issued a tsunami warning for cities along the coast of Sumatra.

Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Center issued an evacuation order to residents in six provinces along the country’s west coast.

Two hours after the quake hit, however, there had been no sign of the feared wave. Damage also appeared to be minimal.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

By The Associated Press

EARTHQUAKE STRIKES: An 8.6-magnitude earthquake and an 8.2-aftershock hit off Indonesia’s western coast Wednesday but did not cause a major tsunami.

WHY NOT? These two quakes were strike-slip quakes, which cause a horizontal tearing movement that does not displace the seabed, causing vibrations in the sea instead.

MEGA-THRUST: The tsunami that devastated Japan last year and the 2004 tsunami off Indonesia were mega-thrust earthquakes. They cause the seabed to heave vertically, dispersing large volumes of water.

MAGNITUDE: The magnitudes of Wednesday’s quakes were smaller. Japan’s temblor was 9.0-magnitude, about four times more powerful than Wednesday’s first quake. The 9.1-magnitude quake in 2004, which triggered an Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people, was five times more powerful.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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