Earthquake sparks Indian Ocean tsumani alert

A massive earthquake off the coast of Sumatra has triggered a tsumani alert around the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia has issued a tsunami warning after a quake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.9 hit waters off westernmost Aceh province.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was centered 33km beneath the ocean floor around 495km from the provincial capital of Banda Aceh.

Said, an official at Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency who goes by only one name, said a tsunami warning has been issued.

US monitors issued an Indian Ocean-wide tsunami watch but said it was not yet certain a giant wave had been generated.

"Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean basin," the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

Indonesia straddles a series of fault lines that makes the vast island nation prone to volcanic and seismic activity.

A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on December 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people, nearly three quarters of them in Aceh.

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