Source AP ©

East Africa coast fears tsunami

East African coast got tsunami warning after an earthquake in the Indian Ocean.

Kenya, which had warned of a "massive tsunami" and urged people to evacuate the coast, said later that only high tides were expected. In Seychelles, which would likely get hit by a tsunami before Kenya, authorities said the window for a strike had passed and they were no longer under a tsunami watch.

"We do not really scare the people or get them to panic until we confirm something is coming," said Michel Vielle, Head of Risk and Disaster Management in the Seychelles. Tanzania cautioned coastal residents to avoid the beach.

The alerts came after an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia on Wednesday, killing seven people, injuring scores, and triggering memories of a 2004 quake that set off a deadly tsunami.

Before Kenya downgraded its warning, Mombasa residents were crowding into buses and leaving public beaches after hearing the warning over the radio.

A manager at Mombasa's luxury Serena Hotel said guests were being moved away from beach-front rooms and into upper floors, but no one was evacuated. He asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarer's Association said the warning came too late for many fishermen.

"Many fishermen haven't heard of the warning," he said. "If it happens, we will have a problem. There is no proper coordination between the authorities in Kenya."

The quake off Sumatra badly damaged buildings along the coast and could be felt in at least four countries, with tall buildings swaying as far as 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers)away.

The undersea quake hit at about 6:10 p.m. (7:10 a.m. EDT), the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of Sumatra island at a depth of 18.6 miles (29.9 kilometers).

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh. That tsunami also hit East Africa and swept across 645 kilometers (400 miles) of Somali coastline, killing at least 78 people.

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