Panic: Residents on motorbikes and cars evacuate to higher ground after a strong earthquake was felt in Banda Aceh, Aceh province on Sumatra island, Indonesia, Wednesday. A massive earthquake off Indonesia's western coast triggered a tsunami watch for countries across the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, clogging streets with traffic as residents fled to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles. (AP/Ichsan Ivansah)Residents of several cities in Sumatra hurriedly ran for their lives when a tsunami warning was issued by agencies after an 8.5-magnitude earthquake shook Aceh on Wednesday.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho confirmed that several aftershocks could potentially trigger a tsunami.
The first earthquake was registered in Aceh at 3:38 p.m.
Fear of tsunami disaster still lingers for Sumatrans, especially those living in Aceh.
Dozens died after a 9.3-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami hit the west coast of Sumatera on Dec. 26, 2004.
The disaster was so large that it affected other countries, including Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Maldives.
The death toll reached a total of 227,898 people, according to U.S. Geological Survey.
For the people of Simeulue regency in Aceh, leaving coastal areas to avoid a tsunami was a tip that has been passed on from generation to generation.
Simeulue was close to the epicenter of the 2004 tsunami and earthquake, but just nine people died on the entire island. The locals were familiar with earthquakes and tsunamis from the local folklore.
The folklore said that many of Simelue locals, who mainly work as fishermen, died when a huge earthquake and tsunami hit the area in 1907.
The lessons from the disaster has been passed from generation to generation: They must immediately run to the higher ground whenever an earthquake hits the area. (asa/dmr)