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On The Scene

Quijano: Reports of panic in Indonesia
On the Scene

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- An earthquake of at least magnitude 8.2 struck off the coast of Indonesia on Monday, an aftershock of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the region December 26 killing at least 175,000 people.

CNN correspondent Kathy Quijano spoke to John King from Jakarta, Indonesia, as residents begin to evacuate the area in fear of another monster wave.

QUIJANO: John, we're just seeing this very first pictures coming out of Banda Aceh on local TV, and there are reports of widespread and absolute panic among residents. Many of them rushed out of their homes, got on their cars and motorcycles and rushed inland and to higher ground. What we're hearing is that this caused traffic jams. Several minor traffic accidents, and there have been injuries.

But there have been no reports of major damages or casualties yet. What we are hearing is that people are mostly watching for the water. ... As you know the tsunami on December 26 caused massive damage to the area. Now they are closely monitoring if a tsunami might strike again.

KING: ... Kathy in our Jakarta bureau, you mentioned you're seeing the first pictures from Banda Aceh. Are they pictures of the reaction onshore? Do we know of any damage onshore? Any sense that as the experts have warned that there could be a tsunami as a result of this quake?

QUIJANO: Right now the pictures we're seeing, it's actually pitch dark in most areas. It seems that electricity is down in some of these areas.

Early communication lines were also cut. It's still very difficult to reach residents. In fact I've only been able to communicate through text messages. Some of the people there, two of them responded in saying that everything was OK. But everyone was in a panic, and feeling still very shaky. We're seeing pictures of people just standing outside buildings on their motorcycles. Mostly men, but we're hearing that a lot of them went inland, further inland towards an area called Lambada near the airport which was not destroyed by the December 26 tsunami.

And they're also watching the water that's coming through under the bridges, because as we know from the December 26 tsunamis, you know, the water, goes very quickly and went through the bridges, and swept almost four kilometers of the city and caused damage there.

KING: Kathy, Atika Shubert was on the phone with us just a few moments ago and she was talking about the migration of people back toward their homes. As you well know, after the December 26 tsunami, people came inland, went uphill if they could. Many [were] forced to relocate because their homes were destroyed. Do you have any sense at all of how many are still in the camps or with family in other regions, as opposed to how many have gone back to the coastal areas which would be most in peril here?

QUIJANO: Right. Well, what we saw there in the last visit is there were tents put up on the land that was hit by the tsunami along the coastline. But there weren't very many actually. Although some of the temporary housing was built in the villages that were [struck] by the tsunami. And this is several hundred, maybe thousands. But we know that most of them have remained in refugee camps. And have not really returned to the most affected areas.

KING: Kathy, has there been any communication, any warnings at all from the Indonesian government? I understand it's the middle of the night. We do see potential tsunami warnings from the government of Thailand, Sri Lanka, as well. Any indications from the government of Indonesia?

QUIJANO: Right now we're not hearing anything. The reports are just trickling in about 15 minutes ago. ... Trying to get any information from the area was very difficult. Except for some parts of Sumatra, to the west of Banda Aceh, communication lines were better. The same thing was reported there, widespread panic, but no major damages or casualties yet. But people are watching out for a possibility of another tsunami.

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