Two massive earthquakes struck off the coast of Indonesia yesterday, triggering tsunami alerts across the Indian Ocean.
The 8.6- and 8.3-magnitude quakes occurred within hours of each other off the coast of Aceh. The tremors were felt as far away as Bangkok, Colombo and Kolkata, but fortunately no major tsunamis were reported.
The quakes brought back chilling memories of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that killed more than 230,000 across the region. But the measures that have been put in place since that disaster appeared to be effective. Immediately after the quakes struck tsunami warnings were issued and people fled to higher ground.
Speaking to Travel Daily this morning, Anthony Dupont, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Sarojin luxury resort in Khao Lak, the Thai resort area devastated by the 2004 tsunami, said the situation among staff and guests was calm.
“We felt the quake and evacuated the hotel, taking guests to higher ground. But there was no panic; the guests were calm and totally understanding – no-one was hysterical.”
Dupont also confirmed that there was no water displacement on the beach, and that the tsunami warning sirens worked. “There were lots of people on the road and marshalls were directing people to the evacuation point,” he said.
The situation was similar in Phuket. Jason Nuell, General Manager for the Renaissance Phuket Resort & Spa, told Travel Daily that the tsunami warning sirens sounded and people made their way to higher ground within the hotel.
“We evacuated the guests and provided them with food and drinks until the threat was over,” Nuell said. “We are currently running at full occupancy and even have a wedding party in-house, but everyone was helping each other. There was a real community feeling.”
As in Khao Lak, no water displacement or unusual waves were reported in Phuket.
Flights to and from Phuket were briefly suspended yesterday after the island’s airport closed. It has since reopened however, and today’s services are all operating as scheduled.
The BBC reported Roger Musson, a seismologist from the British Geological Survey as saying that the nature of the quakes was different to the one that caused the deadly 2004 tsunami.
“It’s a sort of tearing earthquake, and this is much less likely to cause a tsunami because it’s not displacing large volumes of water,” Musson said.