NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11 – US seismologists on Wednesday cancelled warnings of a possible tsunami in the Indian Ocean following a massive earthquake and aftershock off the coast of Sumatra.
“Sea level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished for most areas, therefore the tsunami watch issued by this centre is now cancelled,” said the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which monitored currents in the Indian Ocean following the 8.6 magnitude quake and aftershock.
The cancellation came barely minutes after Cabinet Minister Esther Murugi warned people on the Kenyan coast to move far away from the ocean as possible.
Murugi said the Kenyan coast was likely going to be hit by a Tsunami by 8pm on Wednesday following the 8.6 magnitude quake that hit Indonesia.
Murugi said all schools in Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi, Kiunga and Shimoni had been ordered to close immediately to avoid a stampede by pupils and students later on Wednesday evening.
She said the government had mobilised all the specialised disaster management organisation agencies to prepare for any disaster.
“The earthquake has sparked tsunami fears which are expected to have a high humanitarian impact,” the minister had warned, adding “the water levels are expected to rise up to two to three metres in areas of Malindi, Lamu up to Kiunga while in Kilifi, Mombasa up to Shimoni, the levels are expected to rise up to 2 metres.”
She said the government had activated all the specialised disaster management organization agencies to prepare for any eventuality.
“All disaster management committees along the coastal area have been instructed to monitor and coordinate activities within their areas of jurisdiction,” the minister said.
Medical personnel in all hospitals at the coast had been ordered to be on standby.
The Kenya Meteorological department had also warned of a tsunami in the Kenyan coast later Wednesday night.
“It is expected that strong waves with rough seas will be experienced along the Kenyan coast especially in Lamu and Malindi during the early hours of the night from 8.00pm,” the Kenya meteorological department director Joseph Mukabana said.
A statement from the met department said tsunami had occurred off the west coast of northern Sumatra with the following properties:
Origin time – 0839z (11.39 am Kenyan time) 11 Apr 2012
Position – Latitude 2.3 deg. North; Longitude 93.1 deg. East
Location – off W Coast of Northern Sumatra
Magnitude – 8.7″
Estimated Arrival Time at the East African Coast:
The estimated arrival time at the East African Coast today (11 April 2012) is as follows:
Mombasa (Kenya): Lat. 4.0°S and Lon. 39.7°E is 1706GMT (08.06pm local time);
Lindi (Tanzania): Lat. 9.8°S and Long. 39.9°E is 1707GMT (08.07 pm local time) Dar (Tanzania): Lat. 6.7°S and Long. 39.4°E 1710GMT (08:10pm local time).
Hilalaya (Somalia): Lat. 6.4°N and Long. 49.1°E is 1546GMT (05:46pm local time) Mogadishu (Somalia): Lat. 2.0°N and Long. 45.5°E 1602GMT (07:02pm local time).