Tremors from earthquake off Aceh province reportedly felt in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and India.
Indonesian authorities have issued an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami alert after an 8.7-magnitude earthquake hit waters off the western coast of Aceh in northern Sumatra.
The quake — centred 20 miles beneath the ocean floor and around 308 miles from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, according to the US Geological Survey — was initially reported as 8.9-magnitude but was downgraded to 8.7 not long after it hit on Wednesday afternoon local time.
A 6.5-magnitude aftershock has since been reported by Indonesian authorities.
Traffic jams were reported in Aceh as locals scrambled for higher ground and sirens mingled with the sounds of Qur’an recitals, Reuters reported. A rescue team from Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency has been sent to the region to help.
Thailand has issued an evacuation order for the Andaman coast and has closed Phuket airport, according to local media. Thai authorities have warned of 3-4 metre waves hitting the popular vacation islands of Phuket and Krabi.
Tremors could be felt all across south-east Asia, some lasting for as long as five minutes, with reports on Twitter describing scenes of employees rushing out of office buildings to families looking for safety in cities as far-reaching as Rangoon, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said an alert had been issued for countries from Indonesia to Bangladesh, Iran and Oman, warning of the potential of a “widespread destructive tsunami” all across the Indian Ocean basin.
Indonesia sits atop a series of fault lines called the “Ring of Fire” that make the archipelago nation of roughly 18,000 islands prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
The 9.1-magnitude quake that occurred on Boxing Day in 2004 triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, nearly three-quarters of whom were in Aceh.