World Vision emergency relief staff are on standby after one of the largest earthquakes to hit Asia since the 2004 Asian tsunami struck off the coast of Indonesia.
An 8.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Indonesia’s Aceh province on Wednesday, triggering the Indian Ocean tsunami early warning system. Warnings and evacuation orders were given for parts of India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, but have since been recalled.
Multiple aftershocks have been recorded, including one with a magnitude of 8.3.
The U.S. Geological Survey said that the initial quake happened about 14 miles beneath the ocean floor and 270 miles from Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, on Wednesday at 2:38 p.m. local time.
“There was a real sense of panic after the quake struck. People crowded the streets to flee the coast,” says Charles Asinaga, World Vision operations director, speaking from Aceh.
“We are waiting for news from the cities on the coastal areas, including southern parts of the province like Meulaboh and the small islands near the epicenter,” he says.
Charles told colleagues in Jakarta that it was difficult to get information because the telephone lines were busy with people phoning loved ones.
World Vision has development programs on the Aceh mainland and on the adjacent island of Nias, where 5,000 children are supported through sponsorship.
Geoff Shepherd, World Vision’s Asia Pacific emergency director, says teams were on standby to respond. “Communities have been alerted, and it is our priority to secure the safety of children and the vulnerable,” he said.
World Vision staff reported feeling tremors in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, and India.
The 9.1-magnitude earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 killed 230,000 people, most of them in Aceh. World Vision raised $350 million to mount a multi-country response to the tsunami, which included assistance to 150,000 people in Aceh.
Pray for children and families affected by the quake. Pray that aid organizations like World Vision would be able to reach those that need help.
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