HYDERABAD: Panic spread across Coastal Andhra Pradesh as mild tremors were experienced at a number of villages and town on the coast after a major earthquake shook Indonesia on Wednesday.
Though the Central government issued a tsunami alert initially, it was later withdrawn declaring that there was no tsunami threat, to the relief of people living in coastal areas. No damage was reported due to tremors.
Minutes after the earthquake hit Indonesia, mild tremors were felt in coastal towns like Visakhapatnam, Machilipatnam, Rajahmundry, Kakinada, Nellore, Ongole, Kalingapatnam and other parts of the eastern seaboard for a few seconds around 2.30 pm.Panic-stricken residents were seen rushing out of their homes and offices and many recollected the 2004 tsunami that caused severe damage in coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Many people were having lunch when the tremors were felt. “I was taking lunch with my kids when the glasses and the water jug tumbled suddenly. We all ran to safety from my flat,” said VK Devi of Bharati Apartments in Seethammadhara of Visakhapatnam.
However, in Visakhapatnam, Kakinada and other towns, a few people could not resist the temptation to visit the seashore, expecting to see high tidal waves. But they had to return home disappointed as police cordoned off the areas as a precautionary measure. Even after the tsunami alert was withdrawn, people were asked not to venture onto the beaches. Fishermen too were told to return from the sea as their anxious families awaited them.
The news of tsunami created panic among people as they recalled the dreadful day of December 26, 2004, when tsunami struck Andhra Pradesh coast.
People were asked to move to higher ground in many villages on the coast. Sea waves at Sarvayapalle in Nellore district were seen gathering intensity with wave height rising to 2.5 metres. Jamming of mobile phone networks was reported in many towns for sometime as people made frantic calls to enquire about the safety of their loved ones.
Soon after the first quake in Indonesia, the state government sprang into action. Emergency drills were conducted by disaster management teams, even as district collectors were asked to be on high alert. Indian Coast Guard and marine police were also put on alert. As many as 250 fishermen families from Hope Island, 17 km from Kakinada, were shifted to safer places.