Updated 9:30 AM EDT: Tsunami warnings have been cancelled. No major damage has been reported despite a second 8.2 magnitude earthquake and several aftershocks of magnitude 5.
A powerful, 8.6 magnitude earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean Wednesday morning at 8:38 UTC, off the coast of North Sumatra, Indonesia.
The epicenter was located at a depth of 33 km (20.5 mi), 435 km (270 mi) SW of Banda Aceh, where the December 26, 2004 tsunami claimed 167,000 lives after a 9.3 magnitude earthquake occurred 155 miles offshore.
Although it was not immediately known whether a tsunami was generated, tsunami watches were issued for coastal areas of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, Uae, Yemen, Comores, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, South Africa, and Singapore.
Early reports indicated the earthquake occurred along a fault that moved horizontally, in which case it would be much less likely to produce a tsunami.
Today’s earthquake occurred in a seismically active area of the Pacific known as the “Ring of Fire,” marked by fault lines, active volcanos and frequent earthquakes.