A powerful 8.6 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks struck off Indonesia earlier today.

The quake and initial tsunami warnings sent people scurrying from buildings as far away as southern India.

However, there was little risk of a disastrous tsunami as was seen in December 2004.

Indonesia's government said it had not received reports of major damage and casualties several hours after the quakes.

Waves of up to one metre high were seen near islands off Aceh, but Indonesia cancelled a warning for fresh tsunamis.

It said the worst-hit area was the thinly populated island of Simeulue, off Aceh's southern coast.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center withdrew tsunami warnings for the entire Indian Ocean after keeping them in force for several hours.

"Level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas," the agency said.

Malasyia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya also withdrew tsunami warnings.

Deadliest earthquakes and tsunamis of the past century

The first quake struck at 9.38am Irish time and an 8.2 magnitude aftershock just over two hours later, at 11.43am. Two more strong aftershocks were recorded later.

In Bangladesh, where two tremors were felt, authorities said there appeared to be no threat of a tsunami. Australia also said there was no threat of a tsunami there.

Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India were all badly hit in the 2004 disaster.

At least 230,000 people in 13 Indian Ocean countries were killed in the disaster, including 170,000 in and around Aceh alone.