BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012- A powerful 8.6 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks struck off Indonesia on Wednesday, sending people scurrying from buildings as far away as southern India, but there seemed little risk of a disastrous tsunami as in 2004.
Indonesia said it was checking for damage and casualties but remarkably, no such reports had been received for several hours after the quakes, including in Aceh, the closest province and the area decimated by the disaster eight years ago.
However, some areas close to the epicenter are remote so it could take some time to find out if there was any damage.
Many people were frightened of further tremors.
"It's dark out here but I am scared to go home," said Mila, a 41-year-old woman taking refuge in the grand mosque in the town of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.
"I just want to stay alert because I fear there will be more quakes coming. We are human, it is only natural that we have fear, but I really wish we will all be safe."
Indonesian television showed people gathering in mosques in Banda Aceh. Many others were on the streets, holding crying children.
In the city of Medan, a hospital evacuated patients, who were wheeled out on beds and in wheelchairs.
Wednesday's quakes were felt as far away as the Thai capital, Bangkok, and in southern India, hundreds of office workers in the city of Bangalore left their buildings while the port of Chennai closed down because of tsunami fears.
The quakes were in roughly in the same area as the 2004 quake, which was at a depth of 18 miles along a fault line running under the Indian Ocean, off western Indonesia and up into the Bay of Bengal.
Experts said Wednesday quakes were a "strike-slip" fault, meaning a more horizontal shift of the ground under the sea as opposed to a sudden vertical shift, and less risk of a large displacement of water triggering a tsunami.
Thankfully, the danger has passed, after an hour or two when tsunami warnings were lifted from many countries including Indonesia. (Reuters)