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Huge quake hits South-East Asia


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An earthquake measuring at least 8.2 on the Richter scale has hit South-East Asia and experts are warning that a "widely destructive tsunami" could follow.

The quake, which struck off the coast of northern Sumatra, could cause further devastating waves similar to the ones triggered by the December 26 quake, which measured 9.0.

Authorities are being warned to take "immediate action," including evacuating coastlines within 600 miles of the epicentre - 880 miles northwest of Jakarta and around 100 miles southeast of where the Boxing Day quake hit.

Don Blakeman, a spokesman for the US Geological Survey, said: "Certainly evacuations should be occurring. I hope they are." He added that the earthquake could cause some "local tsunami activity."

Meanwhile, Robert Cessaro of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said any tsunami waves are likely to head towards the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

Thailand has already issued a warning and ordered people to move to higher ground along its Andaman Sea coast. One witness in a high-rise building in the capital Bangkok said he felt the tremor last up to one minute.

Phuket's deputy governor said around "3,000 to 4,000 tourists and locals have been evacuated from Patong and Kamala beaches to higher places."

And the government in India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands said it has issued a preliminary tsunami warning but is not yet evacuating people.

In India, a similar warning was issued as a precautionary measure there is currently no evidence or reports of any killer waves being generated. And in Sri Lanka, officials evacuated the eastern town of Trincomalee.

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