Thursday 12 April 2012
Two major earthquakes struck in the ocean off Sumatra yesterday setting off tsunami alerts and causing widespread panic.
The first quake, at 3.38pm, was of magnitude 8.6 in a depth of 23km, 434km south-west of Banda Aceh. It forced the evacuation of staff from SurfAid’s offices in Medan (North Sumatra), Padang (West Sumatra), Gunung Sitoli (Nias) and Tua Pejat (Mentawai Islands).
SurfAid’s Chief Financial Officer, Andrew Spagnardi, who is based in Medan, said the quake was very strong. “It went on and on for more than four minutes. We all ran outside and stood in the street with the rest of the local community away from anything that could fall on us,” he said.
Meanwhile residents of coastal cities and villages in the islands started fleeing towards higher ground in case of a tsunami.
Two hours later a strong aftershock of 8.2M hit, causing more panic.
“We had to evacuate our office again as we were concerned the building might collapse; it was a very eerie feeling,” Spagnardi said.
SurfAid staff rang all our offices to check that staff were OK and ascertain any injuries or damage in the villages. Electricity was cut in many areas.
Three small tsunamis were recorded, the highest at 0.8m. The tsunami alert, which had been issued for the entire western coast of Sumatra by the Indonesian Meterology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), was lifted at 8pm. Twenty-eight other countries had also issued alerts. ...read more