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Tsunami alert triggers panic

Last updated on: December 30, 2004 12:43 IST

Panic gripped the coastal belt of south India with the meteorological office warning of yet another tsunami striking the district on Thursday.

Officials in Nagapattinam were quick to evacuate people from coastal belts and asked them not to go anywhere near the sea.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who is supposed to visit Akkaraipettai fishing hamlet, has cancelled her visit at the last moment.

Thanjavur district collector J Radkrishnan, who is overseeing the relief operations in the district, asked the residents of Akkaraipettai to evacuate immediately.

Meanwhile, Commodre Salil Mehta, spokesman of Indian armed forces, told rediff.com, "We are on high alert. There is a warning of tsunami and earthquake today (Thursday)."

Even as he was saying this, people on Port Blair's coastal area were leaving their homes and moving to higher places.

Kerala government has also asked the people along the coast to remain alert as there were possibilities of high waves striking again.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government had information from the Central agencies that the sea may turn turbulent by noon.

District administrations had been asked not to allow people within two kilometres of the seashore, Chandy said.

The initial information was given by the defence ministry and later confirmed by the home ministry.

When contacted, the Distress Management Centre in Pune said it was for the state government to decide whether the people along the coast have to evacuated, he said.

The Centre had informed that there was a possibility of the state suffering a "shock", the chief minister said.

The entire government machinery has been alerted to meet any eventuality.

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