Earthquake in Indian Ocean shakes people’s confidence

A powerful earthquake hit India's Nicobar Islands and part of Indonesia, triggering panic in some areas and a tsunami warning in Thailand, but there are no reports of casualties or destruction.

Sunday night's quake jolted people from their sleep in Indonesia's Aceh province, and prompted residents of at least one coastal village in Sri Lanka to flee to a Buddhist temple on higher ground, fearing killer waves were on the way.

No tsunami came, and no injuries or damage were reported after Sunday's scare, the AP says.

Two moderate aftershocks of magnitude 5.3 and 5.7 hit the Nicobar Islands early Monday just as people there started to return to their homes, said R.S. Dattatrayan, a spokesman for India's Meteorology Department.

The earthquake occurred six miles underground, Dattatrayan told.

"There is no harm done. But some people are panicking in the Andaman Islands. The sea is very rough. Yesterday and today we have witnessed a high tide," said Rashid Yusuf, president of the Nicobarese Youth Association.

According to the AP, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a bulletin saying "earthquakes of this size sometime generate local tsunami that can be destructive along coasts located within a few hundred (miles) of the epicenter."

However, "authorities can assume the danger has passed if no tsunami waves are observed near the epicenter within an hour of the earthquake," the bulletin said.

About 3,500 people died in the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Dec. 26 tsunami and some 2,000 remain missing.

Reuters informs Sunday's earthquake was felt in the southern Indian city of Madras on the mainland as well as other parts of south India. The Naval meteorological office in Port Blair said it was the second biggest aftershock after the Dec. 26 earthquake.

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