Huge quake strikes off Indonesia but tsunami warnings canceled

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7.8 Magnitude Earthquake Generates Tsunami Scare

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- A massive quake struck on Wednesday off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, a region devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami, but initial fears of another region-wide disaster faded as tsunami warnings were canceled.

Indonesian and Australian authorities called off their tsunami alerts within two hours of the 7.8 magnitude tremor, though it was still unclear if the quake had destroyed any buildings or killed people in Sumatra.

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7.8-magnitude quake off Indonesia coast
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Huge quake strikes off Indonesia but tsunami warnings canceled
A man pushes a relative who lies on a hospital bed as they were told to leave the building following an earthquake, at a hospital in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Indonesia lifted a tsunami warning issued Wednesday after a powerful earthquake off Sumatra sent islanders rushing to high ground. The U.S. Geological Service said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8. (AP Photo/Rivo Andries)
Patients return after temporarily left a hospital building following an earthquake in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Indonesia lifted a tsunami warning issued Wednesday after a powerful earthquake off Sumatra sent islanders rushing to high ground. The U.S. Geological Service said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8. (AP Photo/Rivo Andries)
Chaotic traffic is seen on a street as people try to reach higher ground following a strong earthquake which triggers tsunami warning in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, Wednesday, March 2, 2016. Indonesia lifted a tsunami warning issued Wednesday after a powerful earthquake off Sumatra sent islanders rushing to high ground. (AP Photo)
Indonesian residents use a variety of transport options as they rush to higher ground in Padang late March 2, 2016, after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra. A powerful and shallow earthquake struck off western Indonesia, sending panicked residents of one city rushing from their homes, and local authorities issued a tsunami warning. AFP PHOTO/STR / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesian residents ride on a scooter and sidecar as they rush to higher ground in Padang late March 2, 2016, after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra. A powerful and shallow earthquake struck off western Indonesia, sending panicked residents of one city rushing from their homes, and local authorities issued a tsunami warning. AFP PHOTO/STR / AFP / STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: An Indonesia man read news of the earthquake that shook the Mentawai islands on the internet that just happened, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 02, 2016. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Jefri Tarigan /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: An Indonesia man read news of the earthquake that shook the Mentawai islands on the internet that just happened, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 02, 2016. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Jefri Tarigan /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PADANG, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: Indonesian people are seen on highway as they go to higher grounds in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia on March 2, 2016 after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Rajo Lengang Kini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PADANG, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: Indonesian people are seen on highway as they go to higher grounds in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia on March 2, 2016 after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Rajo Lengang Kini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PADANG, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: Indonesian people are seen on highway as they go to higher grounds in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia on March 2, 2016 after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Rajo Lengang Kini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PADANG, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: Indonesian people are seen on highway as they go to higher grounds in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia on March 2, 2016 after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast of the island of Sumatra. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Rajo Lengang Kini/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - MARCH 02: An Indonesia man read news of the earthquake that shook the Mentawai islands on the internet that just happened, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 02, 2016. An earthquake with a strength of magnitude 8.3, which is 4,908 °S 94 275 °E depth = 24.0 km (14.9 mi), a potential tsunami, local officials said. Until now, telecommunications were cut off in the Mentawai area and lost contact. (Photo by Jefri Tarigan /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Map of earthquake epicenter, according to the USGS.
Earthquake off Indonesia's Sumatra coast revised downward to magnitude 7.8 - USGS https://t.co/jjBPW1ROKs
Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre cancels watch for Western Australia following Indonesia quake https://t.co/LK0DEhUUaE
M7.9 #earthquake Southwest of Sumatra, Indonesia https://t.co/Fi1dq8J5Fd https://t.co/yV0kQt8lLh
Tsunami watch issued for coastal parts of Western Australia - Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre https://t.co/LK0DEhUUaE
A magnitude-7.9 earthquake strikes off the coast of Indonesia, the USGS reports. https://t.co/2gDlAAeOaZ
BREAKING: Magnitude-7.9 earthquake strikes Indian Ocean west of Jakarta in Indonesia. No tsunami warning issued yet. https://t.co/PamTqYEwdA
Indonesia agency issues tsunami warning after magnitude 7.9 earthquake off Sumatra - Reuters https://t.co/A55ecpd3fZ
The U.S. Geological Service says the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9: https://t.co/oImSxPdj7R
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A National Search and Rescue Agency official gave an initial report of some deaths, but later withdrew those comments.

"Up until now, there is no information about deaths," said Heronimus Guru, the agency's deputy head of operations.

Any rescue operation will be hampered by the dark, which falls early in the tropical archipelago.

There were no immediate reports of damage, but the shallower a quake, the more dangerous it is. The U.S. Geological Survey originally put the magnitude at 8.2, revising it down to 7.8.

The epicenter was 808 km (502 miles) southwest of the coastal city of Padang. It was 24 km (15 miles) deep, it said, after first putting its depth at 10 km.

"So far there have been no reports (of damage)," Andi Eka Sakya, head of the National Meteorological Agency, told TVOne. "In Bengkulu (in southwest Sumatra) they didn't feel it at all."

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said a tsunami was unlikely.

"Local governments of the city of Padang and some other areas in west Sumatra have said there was no tsunami and the warning can now be revoked," spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

President Joko Widodo was staying overnight at a hotel in Medan in North Sumatra and was safe, palace officials said. A Medan resident said he did not feel the quake.

Erwin, a resident of Mentawai, a chain of islands off Sumatra, told Metro TV: "I am at the beach currently looking to see any tsunami sign with my flashlight. There's nothing. A few minutes have passed but nothing, but many people have already evacuated to higher places."

On Pagai, an island off the west coast of Sumatra, resident Jois Zaluchu told Reuters by phone that there were no reports of damage or casualties there.

But Kompas TV said patients at hospitals in Padang were being evacuated. A TVOne reporter said Padang residents were panicking and there were heavy traffic jams.

Indonesia, especially Aceh, was badly hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

RELATED: Aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami

41 PHOTOS
2004 Indonesia Tsunami and Earthquake
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Huge quake strikes off Indonesia but tsunami warnings canceled
A woman walks near a mosque with the rubbish from the quake and tsunami in Banda Aceh Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004. The Health Ministry said in a statement early Wednesday that 27,178 people have been killed on Indonesia's Sumatra Island.. (AP Photo/str)
In this aerial view taken Monday, Dec. 27, 2004 shows the tsunami-stricken areas near the coastal outskirts of Banda Aceh, capital city of Indonesia's Aceh province are still waterlogged. (AP Photo /Xinhua, Enwaer)
Acehnese people walk past a destroyed market building in Banda Aceh Monday, Dec. 27, 2004. Aceh province was one of the few places hit by both southern Asia's massive earthquake and the tsunamis it caused, a double blow that killed thousands and wreaked so much devastation that separatists fighting a decades-long insurgency called a temporary cease-fire. (AP Photo/ Achmad Ibrahim)
Debris are seen in front of Baiturrahman mosque in Banda Aceh Monday, Dec 27, 2004. Aceh province was one of the few places hit by both southern Asia's massive earthquake and the tsunamis it caused, a double blow that killed thousands and wreaked so much devastation that separatists fighting a decades-long insurgency called a temporary cease-fire. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Umisama (only one name available) blankly stares from her makeshift tent in the middle of the road in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province early Friday Dec. 31, 2004 in northwest Indonesia. Thousands of refugees have set up their tents in the open and away from the shores of Banda Aceh following the devastating earthquake-triggered Tsunami Sunday that killed some 80,000 people in the country. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Volunteers load bodies into coffins in preparation for cremation Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004, near Takuapa, Thailand. The death toll in Thailand from a killer tsunami wave, triggered by a massive earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, is expected to rise above 1000 as bodies continued to be collected from the damaged beach areas near Phuket and other southern Thailand areas. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Friends and family members search through debris for the bodies of loved ones Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004, near Takuapa, Thailand. The death toll in Thailand from a killer tsunami wave, triggered by a massive earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, is expected to rise above 1,000 as bodies continued to be collected from the damaged beach areas near Phuket. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
Evacuees of from tunami-damaged Banda Aceh arrive at a military airport in Medan, North Sumatra Tuesday Dec. 28, 2004 in Indonesia. Indonesia has so far confirmed the deaths of around 5,000 people as a result of Sunday's quake and the tsunamis it triggered across Asia and Africa. Most of the deaths in Indonesia have been in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra Island. (AP Photo/Donya)
People search for family through destroyed houses at Sirombu village in Nias, North Sumatra, Indonesia Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. Government estimates put the death toll from Sunday's earthquake and tsunami at 45,268 in Indonesia alone, with another 1,240 people reported missing. (AP Photo/Donya)
An aerial view shows tunami-damaged Meulaboh town, West Aceh, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004. Indonesia has so far confirmed the deaths of around 5,000 people as a result of Sunday's quake and the tsunamis it triggered across Asia and Africa. Most of the deaths in Indonesia have been in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra Island. (AP Photo/ANTARA)
Women grieve after another dead body was discovered in the village of Pudukuppum, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thursday Dec. 30, 2004. Several thousand people have died in Tamil Nadu and hundreds of thousands have been displaced by Sunday's tsunami waves caused by an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia that devastated several countries in South asia. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
Motorists ride through debris on a street in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia's Sumatra island, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. Military helicopter pilots struggled to drop food into cliff-rimmed villages Thursday along the ravaged coast of Sumatra, as shortages and the fear of disease spread in isolated towns strewn with bloating corpses from Sunday's deadly tsunami. Government estimates put the death toll at 45,268 in Indonesia alone. But UNICEF said it could rise as high as 80,000, with nearly a million children in need of assistance. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Acehnese people wait in a long line for gasoline in Banda Aceh, Monday, Dec. 27, 2004. The oil-rich Indonesian province of Aceh was one of the few places hit by both southern Asia's massive earthquake and the tsunamis it caused, a double blow that killed thousands and wreaked so much devastation that separatists fighting a decades-long insurgency called a temporary cease-fire. (AP Photo/ Achmad Ibrahim)
Indonesian soldiers begin the daunting task of cleaning up the debris outside the Baiturahman Mosque at Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004 following Sunday's devastating earthquake and Tsunami in northwest Indonesia. The death toll estimate from the devastating 9.0 earthquake and the Tsunami that followed Sunday has risen to 52,000 in Aceh province alone and brought the total death toll to more than 80,000 across South and Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A woman cries at a temporary mortuary of victims of the quake and tsunami at a mosque in Banda Aceh Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004. The Health Ministry said in a statement early Wednesday that 27,178 people have been killed on Indonesia's Sumatra Island. (AP Photo/str)
Silvarani, a tsunami victim, cries on seeing her damaged house at a fishermen's colony at Nagappattinam, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. At least 84,455 people are reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast, most killed by massive tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia's coast on Sunday. India's official death toll stands at 7,330. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)
A mother and child wearing surgical masks due to the stench of devastation engulfing Banda Aceh, anxiously wait for their relatives at the airport Thursday Dec.30, 2004 in Banda Aceh, Aceh province northwest of Indonesia. The death toll estimate from the devastating 9.0 earthquake and the Tsunami that followed Sunday has risen to 52,000 in Aceh province alone and brought the total death toll to more than 80,000 across South and Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
An aerial view of Pattinapakam, a slum which was destroyed tsunami, near Madras, India, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. At least 84,455 people are reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast, most killed by massive tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia's coast on Sunday. The death toll in India is 7,330. (AP Photo/M.Lakshman)
A wide swath of destruction of Banda Aceh brought about by Sunday's earthquake-triggered tsunami is shown from a commercial plane Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004 in Aceh province northwest of Indonesia. The death toll estimate from the devastating 9.0 earthquake and the Tsunami that followed Sunday has risen to 52,000 in Aceh province alone and brought the total death toll to more than 80,000 across South and Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A villager returns to a fishermen's colony that was hit by a tsunami with her belongings, as police walk through debris, at Nagappattinam, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. At least 84,455 people are reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast, most killed by massive tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia's coast on Sunday. India's official death toll stands at 7,330. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)
Homeless people receive aid at a temporary shelter in Parangipet, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. Several thousand have died in Tamil Nadu and hundreds of thousands have been displaced by Sunday's Tsunami waves caused by an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia that devastated several countries in South asia killing tens of thousands people. (AP Photo / Saurabh Das)
Pyres of victims who were killed by tidal waves burn on the beach at Alappad, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. More than 55,000 people have been killed across south and southeast Asia following a massive earthquake close to Indonesia on Sunday, which triggered devastating tsunamis. (AP Photo/Str)
Indonesian Navy sailors load donation material from people in Jakarta to tsunami-damaged Banda Aceh onto a navy cargo ship Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. Food shortages and disease, meanwhile, in the capital of Aceh province on Sumatra's northern tip posed looming threats as government officials expressed concerns that aid was not reaching the quake-devastated city of Banda Aceh fast enough. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah)
A survivor tries to salvage whatever is left of his stall at a commercial area in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province early Friday Dec. 31, 2004 in northwest Indonesia, following Sunday's devastating earthquake-triggered Tsunami that killed some 80,000 people in the country. Thousands of refugees have set up their tents in the open and away from the shores of Banda Aceh following the disasters. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Tsunami victims cross flooded river by rope after Sunday's massive tidal wave at Sirombu village in Nias, North Sumatra,Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. Government estimates put the death toll at roughly 52,000, according to Health Ministry official Kardino. But UNICEF said it could rise as high as 80,000, with nearly a million children in need of assistance. (AP Photo/Donya)
An injured Indonesian victim cries as he is brought into a hospital for treatment in Banda Aceh Thursday Dec. 30, 2004 following Sunday's devastating earthquake and tsunamis in northwest Indonesia.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Australian Air Force crew unload food and other supplies at Banda Aceh airport on Friday Dec. 31, 2004 which are intended for survivors of Sunday's earthquake-triggered Tsunami at Aceh province in northwest Indonesia. International aid start pouring in following the disasters that left some 80,000 people dead in the country. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
An aerial view of Marakkanam, a village destroyed by tsunami, near Pondicherry, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. At least 84,455 people are reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast, most killed by massive tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia's coast on Sunday. The death toll in India is 7,330. (AP Photo/M.Lakshman)
A Hindu priest eats, next to an idol of Hindu God Brahma, at the site where a temple once stood, before it was washed away by tidal waves at Pallepalam, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. More than 60,000 people have been killed across south and southeast Asia following a massive earthquake close to Indonesia on Sunday, which triggered devastating tsunamis. 10 people were reported to have been killed in Pallepalam by tidal waves. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)
An injured Acehnese girl who also lost her entire family when a tsunami hit the region last week, wipes her face as she takes a rest at a hospital in Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. The girl appears to have lost her memory as she has no recollection of her name.Military pilots struggled to drop food into cliff-rimmed villages Thursday along the ravaged coast of Sumatra, where towns strewn with bloating corpses remained isolated for a fifth day after a huge earthquake and tsunami devastated the region. Government estimates put the death toll at roughly 52,000, according to Health Ministry official Kardino. But UNICEF said it could rise as high as 80,000, with nearly a million children in need of assistance. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
Muslims offer prayers for Aceh victims of deadly tsunami at Istiqlal Mosque Tuesday Dec. 28, 2004 in Jakarta, Indonesia. At least 5,774 are confirmed dead in Indonesia, but the government says the toll could eventually reach 25,000, with hundreds of thousands homeless following the Sunday's powerful earthquake in Sumatra. (AP Photo/Irwin Fedriansyah)
An Acehnese man walks past a destroyed market building in Banda Aceh Monday, Dec. 27, 2004. Aceh province was one of the few places hit by both southern Asia's massive earthquake and the tsunamis it caused, a double blow that killed thousands and wreaked so much devastation that separatists fighting a decades-long insurgency called a temporary cease-fire. (AP Photo/ Achmad Ibrahim)
Residents walk through debris at destroyed market after tidal waves hit at the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia's Sumatra island, Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2004. The military was preparing to dig mass graves Wednesday on Indonesia's battered Sumatra Island, where the government said the official death toll from an earthquake and tsunamis had reached more than 32,000. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A refugee girl wears a protective mask in a temporary shelter Friday Dec. 31, 2004 at refugee camp near airport in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Indonesia has suffered the brunt of the earthquake-triggered Tsunami with the death toll at some 80,000 and still rising. Aid, both foreign and local have started pouring in. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A villager returns to a fishermen's colony that was hit by a tsunami, with her belongings , at Nagappattinam, in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004. At least 84,455 people are reported dead around southern Asia and as far away as Somalia on Africa's eastern coast, most killed by massive tsunamis that smashed coastlines after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia's coast on Sunday. India's official death toll stands at 7,330. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)
Still image made from an amateur video, shot by a British family vacationing at Thailand's Phuket resort, of the tidal wave coming ashore Sunday Dec. 26 2004. The video of the tsunami, sparked by Sunday's earthquake off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, was filmed from the balcony of the family's hotel on the resort's Patong Beach. (AP Photo / APTN) ** TV OUT **
Still image made from an amateur video, shot by a British family vacationing at Thailand's Phuket resort, of the tidal wave coming ashore Sunday Dec. 26 2004. The video of the tsunami, sparked by Sunday's earthquake off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, was filmed from the balcony of the family's hotel on the resort's Patong Beach. (AP Photo / APTN) ** TV OUT **
Still image made from an amateur video, shot by a British family vacationing at Thailand's Phuket resort, of the aftermath after a tidal wave came ashore Sunday, Dec. 26 2004. The video of the tsunami, sparked by Sunday's earthquake off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, was filmed from the balcony of the family's hotel on the resort's Patong Beach. (AP Photo / APTN) ** TV OUT **
Islets are formed of what used to be part of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province in northwest of Indonesia, as seen from a commercial plane on Thursday Dec. 30, 2004 following Sunday's earthquake-triggered tsunami. The death toll estimate from the devastating 9.0 earthquake and the Tsunami that followed Sunday has risen to 52,000 in Aceh province alone and brought the total death toll to more than 80,000 across South and Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Acehnese woman holds a child after Eid al-Adha prayer in the tsunami-ravaged town of Meulaboh, Aceh province, Friday, Jan. 21, 2005. A tsunami hit the province on Dec. 26, 2004 killing more than 100,000 people. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Acehnese men climb the stairs of a mosque damaged by the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami in Lhoknga village on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 7, 2005. Indonesia reported on Monday 788 more bodies have been found in tsunami-hit Aceh province, raising the country's confirmed death toll to at least 114,701 from the Dec. 26 disaster. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
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A 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) that crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries to wipe some communities off the map in seconds.

The disaster killed 126,741 people in Aceh alone.

Indonesia straddles the so-called "Pacific Ring of Fire", a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth's crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

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