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Powerful Earthquakes off N. Sumatra - EMSC

A magnitude 8.7 earthquake has occurred off the west coast of N. Sumatra, and was closely followed by a second quake of magnitude 8.1. said seismological organisation EMSC.

A tsunami warning has been issued by Sumatra's meteorology department, according to a Bloomberg report. An Indian Ocean-wide tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which was later called off for most regions except the closest to the epicentre.

Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean Basin, said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, Malaysia, UK territory Diego Garcia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, Yemen, and Singapore were all put on tsunami alert.

However, it is not known that a tsunami was generated, it added. Click here to read the regions the tsunami warning applies to.

The coordinates are 2.31N - 93.21E and the earthquake was at a depth of 10km today 11/04/2012 at 08:38:36 (Universal Time).

It happened close to the following cities:

623 km west of Medan (pop 1750971, local time 15:38:36.1 2012-04-11)

382 km SW of Meulaboh (pop 35062, local time 15:38:36.1 2012-04-11)

430 km SW of Banda aceh (pop 250757, local time 15:38:36.1 2012-04-11.

The UK Foreign Office issued an advisory, saying that British nationals in the region are advised to call home to let family know they are safe.

In the words of writer Tomasso Dorigo: "The wave is expected to arrive to Sumatra right now, at the time of writing this. It is not granted that an earthquake, even a powerful one such as the present one, will generate a train of tsunami waves; however it is quite likely that this is what is occurring. The extent of the potential destruction cannot be estimated, but it is advisable to move to higher areas if you find yourself in the coastal region of Sumatra or anywhere on the coasts of Indian ocean."

The last earthquake in Sumatra was in 2004 and triggered the Boxing Day tsunami in which 170,000 people died. At a magnitude of 9.1, its epicentre was also off the western coast of northern Sumatra at a depth of 30km.

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