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India issues tsunami alert after Sumatra quake

New Delhi: India today issued a tsunami warning for Nicobar islands and alerted the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh after an earthquake of 8.9 magnitude hit waters off western coast of northern Sumatra. "We have issued a tsunami warning for Nicobar islands," Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences told PTI.

The projections issued by the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) showed the tidal waves triggered by the quake hitting parts of Nicobar, Komatra and Katchal minutes after it struck the region at 14:08 IST. The ITEWC also issued an alert for coastal Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman islands forecasting the arrival time of the first wave.

For Tamil Nadu, the first wave was expected to reach the coastal regions at around 4:33 p.m. Strong tremors were felt in Chennai and some other nearby areas. People in multi storeyed apartments and those working in high rise buildings rushed out to open areas.

Kolkata and its neighbourhood were arocked by tremors which were also felt in North- 24 Parganas adjoining Kolkata and in the north Bengal town of Siliguri. A large number of people rushed out of offices in Park street and downtown BBD Bagh area here as windows and doors rattled. According to reports, some buildings on Park street developed cracks. Metro Rail services in the metropolis were suspended from 2:42 pm and passengers were asked to vacate stations.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami watch was in effect for Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, the Maldives and other Indian Ocean islands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Somalia, Oman, Iran, Bangladesh, Kenya, South Africa and Singapore.

A tsunami watch means there is the potential for a tsunami, not that one is imminent. The US Geological Survey said the powerful quake was centered 33 kilometers beneath the ocean floor. A giant 9.1-magnitude quake off the country on Dec. 26, 2004, triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 2,30,000 people, nearly three quarter of them in Aceh.

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