BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – A powerful 8.6 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks struck off Indonesia on Wednesday, sending people scurrying from buildings as far away as southern India, but there seemed little risk of a disastrous tsunami as in 2004.
Indonesia said it was checking for damage and casualties but remarkably, no such reports had been received for several hours after the quakes, including in Aceh, the closest province and the area decimated by the disaster eight years ago.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – An 8.7 magnitude earthquake struck off Indonesia on Wednesday, sending residents around the region scurrying from buildings and raising fears of a huge tsunami as in 2004, but authorities said there were no reports suggesting a major threat.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in Aceh, the Indonesian province closest to the earthquake.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Two former separatist rebels vied for governorship of Indonesia’s Aceh region on Monday after an election campaign plagued by violence in a gas-rich province recovering from a devastating tsunami eight years ago.
An exit poll by the Indonesia Circle Institute polling agency showed rebel former foreign minister Zaini Abdullah from Partai Aceh with more than 54.4 percent. Abdullah was foreign minister for former rebel group, the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
Islamic religious police in Indonesia’s Aceh province are stumped about how to handle a case of two women who married at the urging of neighbors concerned that one of the roomates was a man and therefore a couple living in sin. Aceh is the only province in the country that applies sharia, or Islamic law.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Hasan di Tiro, the founder of the rebel Free Aceh Movement which waged a decades-long war against the Indonesian government, died on Thursday at the age of 84.
A businessman descended from the Acehnese royal family, di Tiro declared independence for the westernmost province of Aceh in 1976.
In a bid to implement Islamic law to the letter, Indonesia’s West Aceh district on Thursday started giving away long, loose skirts to cover up Acehnese women caught wearing tight jeans. The westernmost province of Aceh on Sumatra is the sole upholder of sharia law in the predominantly Muslim, but secular Indonesia. The previous local parliament passed a controversial law in September allowing adulterers to be stoned to death.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Indonesia police said on Monday they had shot dead an Islamic militant involved in the beheading of three schoolgirls in 2005 and captured three other men in raids in Aceh province in Sumatra.
Police carried out the raids around Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh, following the arrest on Sunday morning of six terror suspects in Medan, North Sumatra.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Women may soon be banned from wearing tight trousers in parts of an Indonesian province that practices strict Islamic law, and offenders could see their attire cut up.
Aceh is the only province in predominantly Muslim Indonesia to use Islamic sharia for its legal code. The previous provincial government passed a controversial law in September allowing adulterers to be stoned to death.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) – Sirens wailed and loudspeakers ordered residents of coastal towns and villages from Indonesia’s Aceh province to Sri Lanka to seek safety during an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami practice drill on Wednesday.
The exercise, a U.N.-backed initiative to test the warning systems and overall preparedness of nations in the region, is supposed to simulate the magnitude 9.15 quake that struck off Aceh on December 26, 2004 and triggered a huge tsunami.
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Sirens wailed and mosque loudspeakers ordered residents of the capital of Aceh province to seek safety as Indonesia kicked off an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami practice drill on Wednesday.
The exercise, a U.N.-backed initiative to test the warning systems and overall preparedness of several nations in the region, is supposed to simulate the magnitude 9.15 quake that struck off Aceh on Dec. 26, 2004 and triggered a huge tsunami.
About 230,000 people died as the tsunami raced across the Indian Ocean and hit Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, including 170,000 deaths in Aceh alone.
Officials from Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency issued the test earthquake warning, sending out the notification of a 8.3 Richter scale quake off the coast of Aceh via a telephone text message, followed by a tsunami warning.
In Aceh, hundreds took part in the simulation while passers-by looked on.
"I’m still traumatised from the (2004) tsunami," said Halimah, 43, who watched the drill but did not take part. "If there’s another disaster, I prefer to take shelter in the mosque so that if I die, I’d die in the mosque."
Hundreds of people have died in a series of recent disasters in Asia, including a devastating earthquake off the coast of Padang, on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, and a series of tsunamis in Samoa and American Samoa. [ID:nSP24809]
Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, early warning systems ranging from beach loudspeaker sirens to deep ocean monitor buoys have been set up to prompt people to seek safety on higher ground.
But some experts have questioned the effectiveness of early alert systems, particularly if the time interval between the alarm and the tsunami hitting the area is very short, as would be the case in Indonesia which lies on the fault lines.
Tsunami waves can travel at speeds of 800-1,000 km (500-600 miles) per hour. The height of normal waves and tsunami waves is similar in deep ocean water, but closer to the shore, tsunami waves slow and swell, reaching heights of 10 metres (32 feet) or more.
The aim of the drill among members of UNESCO is to identify weaknesses in the system and areas which could be improved.
Countries participating include Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and East Timor. (Additional reporting by Olivia Rondonuwu and Dicky Kristanto in Jakarta; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Sara Webb)