Cyclone Ockhi: No tsunami in Bay of Bengal region, says IMD as false WhatsApp messages create panic

The Indian Meteorological Department told media that there was no likelihood of a tsunami forming due to Cyclone Ockhi in the Bay of Bengal region, dispelling fake news alerts and rumours on WhatsApp.

Published: 30th November 2017 05:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th November 2017 07:17 PM   |  A+A-

Cyclone Ockhi. (Image courtesy skymetweather.com)

By Online Desk

Debunking rumours that Cyclone Ockhi could trigger a tsunami formation in the Bay of Bengal region bordering Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam districts in Tamil Nadu and adjoining Kerala, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) told the media that there was no likelihood of a tsunami. Adding to the chaos surrounding the fake messages, some media outlets too have put out false tsunami alerts.

READ | Cyclone Ockhi brings heavy rains, winds to Kerala, Kanyakumari: All you need to know

The IMD today said that the deep depression which had formed in the Bay of Bengal region on Wednesday had now intensified into a cyclonic storm named Ockhi. Heavy rains have been lashing districts in Kerala and coastal Tamil Nadu since yesterday. Kanyakumari reported four deaths today while one person died in Kerala's Kollam. More rainfall is expected in the next 24 hours as the cyclone is likely to get become severe. Chennai will get intermittent spells of rain. [SEE HERE: Cyclone Ockhi in pictures]

A fake message in Malayalam that was doing the rounds of Whatsapp groups translates thus: "Tsunami Warning: Neyyar dam to be opened; heavy winds gush through Idukki In the southern regions; heavy rains and cold weather with winds in the surrounding areas of Kochi; everyone advised to stay indoors; fishermen return from sea. Try and avoid going out for work and if in a vehicle, try to keep moving; Listen to news and news channels"

Another of the fake messages in Malayalam said news alerts had been received that sea had moved back by 8 km at Velankanni in Nagapattinam district. Nagapattinam, located almost at the mid point of the Tamil Nadu coast and juts out like a nose into the Bay of Bengal, was the worst affected district in India with over 600 confirmed deaths during the devastating tsunami which hit southern India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on December 26, 2004.

The hoax messages on WhatsApp and other social media platforms, therefore spread panic by referring to the same places in these so-called alerts.  

Thirumullaivasal, Nagapattinam, Velankanni and Thopputhurai are important small ports in the region. 

Can a tsunami be caused by a Cyclone? Myths debunked 

A tsunami is a series of large waves generated by an abrupt movement on the ocean floor that can result from an earthquake, an underwater landslide, a volcanic eruption or - very rarely - a large meteorite strike. Powerful undersea earthquakes are responsible for most tsunamis.

On the other hand, a system of winds rotating inwards to an area of low atmospheric pressure or a violent tropical storm is what we call a cyclone. A cyclone is formed over water and develops by the wind whereas a tsunami is formed over the water and develops if there is an earthquake under the surface, that is below the water.

Cyclones can cause rainfall, strong winds and thunderstorms whereas tsunamis can cause an abnormal rise in sea level. To put it simply, a wave caused by an earthquake is a tsunami and a violent tropical storm is a cyclone.

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