New Delhi/Hong Kong, April 11 (IANS) Many states along India's east coast felt tremors after an earthquake measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale rocked Sumatra in Indonesia Wednesday. Disaster management experts said there was no threat of a tsunami in India, but fishermen were still warned against venturing into the sea.
No loss of life or property has been reported in India or elsewhere in the world so far. However, normal life was affected in several cities as people rushed out of buildings after the quake that lasted almost 30 seconds.
A tsunami warning was issued in India and 27 other countries. The alert caused fear in India's coastal areas.
National Disaster Management Authority vice-chairman V. Shashidhar Reddy said in New Delhi: 'Initially there was a tsunami threat, but it is not so now. The alert was issued as a precautionary step.'
While the India Meteorological Department (IMD) put the Sumatra quake's intensity at 8.5, the US Geological Survey classified it as an 8.6 temblor. The depth of the epicenter, according to the US Geological Survey, was 33 km, considered to be a shallow quake.
The earthquake had its epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra and occurred at 2.08 p.m. as per the IMD.
The quake struck 308 miles (500 km) southwest of the city of Banda Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, at a depth of 20.5 miles, the US Geological survey said.
In India, reports of tremors came from all along the eastern coast, including Chennai, Kolkata, Patna, Guwahati and several other places.
The union home ministry issued advisories asking the governments of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and all east coast states to issue a 'coastal alert'.
'They have been asked to advise fishermen not to venture out in the sea. The Andaman administration has moved people from Nicobar side to safer areas, as a precautionary measure. The precautionary drill has been activated,' the ministry statement said.
In Kolkata, metro operations were shut around 2.40 p.m., shortly after the tremors. People rushed out of offices and a general fear gripped them. According to reports, some buildings on Park Street developed cracks.
Scenes were similar in Chennai where people rushed out of buildings after the tremors were felt.
'Oh my god! Tremors for 30 to 35 seconds, everyone came running out of their home. The tsunami alert is more scary, hope there will be no repeat of December 2006,' Vishnu Ram of Chennai said.
Ports were closed and beaches were evacuated as a precautionary measure.
In Kerala, K.V. Abdul Khader, a legislator, said he was on the fifth floor of the legislator's hostel and was woken up as the ground shook.
The Kerala government asked district collectors to send out a warning, especially to fishermen.
In Odisha, instructions were issued to all coastal districts to remain alert about a tsunami.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy directed all nine coastal districts of the state to take precautionary measures and if necessary seek the help of the army and the navy.
The authorities appealed to people living in low-lying areas along the coast to immediately move to safer places.
Mild tremors lasting about 10-15 seconds were felt in Karnataka too. There was panic in several localities of Bangalore, causing people to run out of high-rise buildings.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued the tsunami watch for 28 places, including Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, Maldives, Britain, Malaysia, Mauritius, Syechelles, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Madagascar, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.
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