A massive earthquake off Indonesia’s western coast triggered a tsunami watch for countries across the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, clogging streets with traffic as residents fled to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles.
Two hours after the quake hit, however, there was no sign of the feared wave. Damage also appeared to be minimal.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 8.6-magnitude quake was centered 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor around 269 miles (434 kilometers) from Aceh province.
“It wasn’t the strongest quake I’ve felt,” said 22-year-old Tuti Rahmi, while trying to reach her brother by phone from Banda Aceh, people around her crying and screaming as they poured from their homes.
“But it seemed to last forever,” she said, adding the ground shook for nearly four minutes.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.
But hours later, the threat appeared to have passed.