A powerful earthquake off the coast of Indonesia has killed hundreds of people, perhaps thousands, and triggered tsunami alerts around the Indian Ocean. There were initially fears that the quake could lead to a devastating tsunami like the massive waves which left nearly 300,000 people dead or missing last December.
Tsunami warnings were issued across the region. However, several nations cancelled the alerts well before dawn, telling people they could return to their homes.
The 8.7 magnitude quake struck at around 11:15 pm local time. The epicentre was 200 kilometres off the coast of Sumatra, very close to that of December’s quake. A US Geological Survey spokesman said Monday’s quake was an aftershock from December’s but also a “very serious earthquake in its own right”.
Thousands of people fled their homes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka – all areas still recovering from the tsunami three months ago.