8.6-Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Indonesia, Prompting Tsunami Watch

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An 8.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia Wednesday, triggering a tsunami watch across the Indian Ocean.  The warning has since been canceled.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was 20.5 miles deep and hit 269 miles southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province in Sumatra.  The tremor was originally recorded as an 8.9-magnitude quake, but was downgraded to an 8.7 and then an 8.6 by the USGS.

Workers at the Hermes Palace Hotel in Banda Aceh described a scene of panic near the coast as people fled to higher ground.  Employee Cut Arlista said the shaking was so strong, water from the hotel pool spilled out, though the 70 guests at the hotel were not evacuated.

"People were crying, and everybody was running inland as fast as they can," Arlista told ABC News.

Wednesday's quake hit the same region that was devastated by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake in December 2004.  That tremor triggered a catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people.

"I think a lot of people learned from the past," Arlista said.  "Everybody knew to run as soon as the earthquake hit."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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