A powerful 7.3 earthquake struck 260 miles from the western coast of Indonesia on Wednesday morning, yet caused no injuries or significant damage on land. A tsunami warning was briefly issued, but has since been withdrawn.
The Associated Press reports residents in the Aceh province jammed roads as they fled to higher ground upon hearing the tsunami warning. This is a region of the world still gravely traumatized by the Boxing Day 2004 earthquake and tsunami.
The U.S. Geological Survey stated the quake was centered some 18 miles (30 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor.
One resident, named only as Fera, told the AP: “I’m afraid,” before escaping on a motorbike with her two children and her mother. In the town of Simelue, hospitals and schools were evacuated.
Mercifully, the only casualty of the quake was people’s nerves. Close to two hours after the earthquake had first rumbled, authorities lifted the tsunami warning, and relative calm was restored.
Indonesia is especially vulnerable to huge seismic upheaval, as it lies directly on the so-called ‘Ring of Fire,’ an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Laid out in a 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it consists of a continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts. Tectonic plate movements are common.
Indonesia took the brunt of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, a series of tsunamis triggered by the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. Half of the 230,000 who lost their lives were from the Aceh province.