Thailand evacuates for possible tsunami after major quake off Indonesia

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BANGKOK, April 11 — Thailand’s National Disaster Warning Centre has issued an evacuation order for residents and tourists along the Andaman coast after a huge earthquake struck off Indonesian Sumatra on Wednesday.

The quake’s magnitude was 8.6, according to a revised measurement from the US Geological Survey, and it struck 431 kilometres off the Indonesian city of Banda Aceh.

The tremor was felt as far as in Bangkok where office workers at several high-rise buildings said their workplaces were shaken for 3-5 minutes. Several southern provinces also felt the tremors.

Thai disaster centre director Somsak Khaosuwan urged people along the sea in the Andaman coastal provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Phang-nga, Ranong, Trang and Satun to evacuate to higher ground.

Phuket International Airport was closed on Wednesday following the tsunami warning,  Airports of Thailand president Aniruth Thanomkulbutr said, adding that all flights have been cancelled since 4pm.

Large numbers of foreign tourists and local residents in Phuket were seen rushing to higher ground for their safety.

Thailand’s Andaman Coastal provinces were hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami which killed around 5,400 people including foreigners and local residents.