POSTED: 10:16 a.m. HST, Jan 10, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 12:34 p.m. HST, Jan 10, 2012
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia >> A powerful earthquake hit waters off western Indonesia, prompting officials to briefly issue a tsunami warning. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 and struck 260 miles off the coast of Aceh province. It was centered 18 miles beneath the ocean floor. The quake struck 12:37 a.m. Wednesday in Indonesia (8:37 a.m. today in Hawaii.)
Officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach said the powerful earthquake in the Indian Ocean did not cause a widespread tsunami, but "there is a very small possibility of a local tsunami that could affect" nearby coasts.
Residents in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, and other cities along the coast poured into the streets after being rattled from their sleep. But one local police spokesman, Gustav Leo, said there did not appear to be any serious damage.
Arief Akhir, an official with Indonesia's geological agency, said a tsunami warning had been issued. But more than an hour after the quake, there were no signs of seismically triggered waves.
A 9.1-magnitude quake in the same region on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, half of them in Aceh.
People in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh — still deeply traumatized by the 2004 monster quake and tsunami — were rattled from their sleep. They fled their homes and waited outside as sirens blared from local mosques, some hopping in cars and motorcycles and heading for high ground.
"I'm afraid," said Fera, a resident, who skidded off on her motorbike with her two children and her mom.
In the town of Seumele, patients were evacuated from a a hospital.
Officials contacted by The Associated Press in several coastal cities, however, had not received any reports about serious injures or damage.
Nearly two hours after the quake struck, the local geological agency lifted it's tsunami warning.