KARACHI: Warnings of a possible tsunami following a massive earthquake and aftershock off the coast of Sumatra were cancelled across several countries, including Pakistan on Wednesday.
The tsunami watch area for the Indian Ocean, including Karachi’s coast, has been reduced after the 8.6 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Banda Aceh in Indonesia and the Meteorological Department said that while they are keeping a watch there seems to be “little danger to Pakistan’s coastal areas”.
Initially a tsunami warning had been issued by different agencies including the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for all of the Indian Ocean and possible times had been released for when a tsunami could strike the Gwadar and Karachi areas.
“We are keeping a continuous watch at the tsunami warning centre here at the Pakistan Met Department and even observing the situation through satellites,” chief meteorologist Tauseef Alam told The Express Tribune.
“If they are safe in Aceh near the quake-hit area, Pakistan is quite safe and it seems unlikely that anything would come this way. Even if it does travel this far, it will probably be minimised by the eastern coast of India before it reaches Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Mozambique and US seismologists cancelled warning of a possible tsunami issued earlier.
“Sea level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished for most areas, therefore the tsunami watch issued by this centre is now cancelled,” said the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii, which monitored currents in the Indian Ocean following the 8.6 magnitude quake and aftershock.
The quake was followed by a massive aftershock, measuring 8.2, off the Indonesian island.
Earlier, the centre said: “Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami.”
The first quake struck at 2:38 pm (0838 GMT) at a depth of 33 km with its epicentre some 435 km from Banda Aceh.
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.