Massive Earthquake Rocks Indonesia

Reports are inconsistent at this point, but one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded (magnitude 8.5 8.9) struck off of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center. Massive tidal waves have been reported throughout the region.

(CNN) — Many people are feared dead after the largest earthquake to shake the planet in nearly 40 years jolted Southeast Asia Sunday.

Initial reports say tidal waves may have killed as many as 160 people in Sri Lanka and 26 in southern India.

More deaths are feared in Thailand and Indonesia.More from the Australia’s ABC, including a Indonesian estimate that the quake was 6.8. At this point monitoring agencies all over the world are reporting that the magnitude was over 8.

Update: It’s as bad as was initially feared.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – An earthquake of epic power roiled the Indian Ocean on Sunday morning, unleashing 20-foot walls of water that came crashing down on Asian beaches in six countries across thousands of miles, smashing seaside resorts and villages and leaving nearly 10,000 dead in their wake.

The death toll along the southern coast of Asia – and as far west as Somalia, on the African coast, where nine people were reported lost – was certain to increase, as authorities sorted out a far-flung disaster caused by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, strongest in 40 years and fifth-largest in a century.

The earthquake hit at 6:58 a.m.; the tsunami came as much as 2 1/2 hours later, without warning, on a morning of crystal blue skies. Sunbathers and snorkelers, cars and cottages, fishing boats and even a lighthouse were swept away.

Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India each reported thousands dead, and Thailand, a Western tourist hotspot, said hundreds were dead and thousands missing.Kevin McCullough has additional details, and Joe Gandelman has a roundup of details from Asian blogs.

Update 2: The magnitude has now been set at 9.0 and the death toll continues to mount – over 13,000.

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