A tsunami watch around the Indian Ocean was lifted on Wednesday hours after two powerful earthquakes hit off Indonesia's western coast. The 8.6- and 8.2-magnitude earthquakes triggered panic on Wednesday afternoon, with residents in coastal cities fleeing to high ground in cars and on the backs of motorcycles.

A tsunami warning was issued for the whole Indian Ocean in the aftermath of the quakes, one of which took place in roughly the same area as a Dec. 26, 2004, quake of 9.1 magnitude, which sent huge tsunami waves crashing into Sumatra, where 170,000 people were killed, and across the Indian Ocean.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii lifted the tsunami watch for most areas of the Indian Ocean about four hours after the first quake. It was still in effect for Indonesia, India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the island territory of Diego Garcia.

Major damage or tsunami waves locally were not reported.

Small tsunami waves of around one meter hit the western coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island after the series of earthquakes, though the country's disaster agency said it was still assessing whether there were any deaths or damage.

The agency expects the worst impact to have been on Simeulue island off Sumatra and forecasts further small aftershocks in the country's westernmost region, but it has lifted its tsunami alert for an area which was devastated by a tsunami in 2004.

Thai authorities on Wednesday also lifted the tsunami warning after the 8.6-magnitude earthquake off Indonesia failed to generate a tidal wave.

National Disaster Warning Centre director Somsak Khaosuwan said he was confident that there will be no tsunami, hours after the centre had issued an alert to all six provinces along the Andaman coast - Krabi, Phuket, Phangnga, Ranong, Satun and Trang.

India also lifted the general Tsunami warning, with authorities saying the danger had passed.
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