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Indonesia earthquake: Why no tsunami this time?

Wednesday's Indonesia earthquake was similar in magnitude to the devastating 2004 quake, but there was no tsunami. The difference? Location. 

The shadows of Indonesian soldiers directing traffic are cast by the afternoon sun as people evacuate to higher ground after a strong earthquake was felt in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Wednesday.

Heri Juanda/AP

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A powerful earthquake and aftershock struck the Indian Ocean off of northern Indonesia Wednesday, triggering tsunami watches and evacuations throughout the Indian Ocean basin, from Australia to Kenya.

The first temblor, a magnitude 8.6 quake, struck at 2:38 p.m. local time, along a segment of a fault on the sea floor some 269 miles southwest of the coastal city of Banda Aceh, capital of Aceh province. A second, 8.2 magnitude quake struck two hours later roughly 120 miles south of the first quake's epicenter. 

Both quakes occurred at relatively shallow depths – 14 miles and 10 miles – beneath the sea floor, according to data gathered by the US Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo.


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