It's the stuff of nightmares at first glance, but there is some positive news about two huge earthquakes that struck several hundred miles offshore of Banda Aceh in Sumatra this morning. At 8:38 UTC (1:38 AM in the Pacific time zone) there was a magnitude 8.6 event with an estimated depth of about 14 miles. It was followed by a magnitude 8.2 event in the same region a little over two hours later. Given the horrific tragedy of 2004 when a tsunami generated in the region killed a quarter million people, this surely caused a sense of concern and panic. But there is a huge difference in the quakes that happened this morning.
Preliminary news reports indicate that warning systems worked as people moved away from low ground along the coast. A sense of panic, no doubt, but at least there were warnings given, unlike in 2004.
For some details on the somewhat odd nature of these earthquakes, check out this analysis at Lithics.