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Tidal waves wreak havoc along coastal areas — Over 2,000 feared dead; huge losses to property

Our Bureau


Fishermen and other volunteers dragging to the shore the body of a woman washed away by tidal waves in Chennai on Sunday. — R. Balaji

Chennai , Dec. 26

MORE than 2,000 people across the country were feared dead and several hundred more missing as tidal waves lashed the coastal parts of the country.

The damage was severe in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

The tidal waves, a result of an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale that rocked the Sumatra islands at 6.29 a.m. (IST), wreaked havoc all along the coast, with Tamil Nadu bearing the brunt. About a dozen aftershocks were reported in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

There was panic all around as reports of tidal waves causing severe damage kept coming in. Normal life was thrown out of gear across the country on a Sunday morning after Christmas day. Telephone connections were affected, resulting in more tension as people across the country tried desperately to get in touch with relatives and friends in the affected areas.

A special bulletin issued by the India Meteorological Department said "a great earthquake of magnitude 8 on Richter scale occurred in the Sumatra islands region at 6.29 a.m. IST. Due to this earthquake, tsunamis (sea waves) of height reaching up to 10 m may affect the coastal places of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry for some time. People in the low-lying areas in the above region are advised to be on the alert and evacuate away from the coast as a precautionary measure. People are also cautioned not to move around close to coast and to be on the alert for the next 24 to 48 hours."

In Tamil Nadu alone, estimates put the number of dead at 1,560 while 100 more were feared dead in Andaman and Nicobar.

There were reports that about 3,800 people were killed in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Both the sea port and the airport at Port Blair, in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, have been damaged by the quake.

Ports along the east coast were affected, especially those at Chennai and Tuticorin. At Chennai Port, three ships were involved in a collision in the port. The port authorities have decided to suspend operations for the next two days to assess damage to port installations. The Union Surface Transport Ministry has set up a special cell to monitor the situation at all the ports while the Director General of Shipping is closely following the movement of ships in the Bay of Bengal.

A press release issued by the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam, to the south of Chennai, said that the second unit— MAPS-II — was shut down safely and cooled down after a mild tremor around 6.30 a.m. followed by high tide at 9 a.m.


A volunteer braving the choppy seas off the Marina beach to fish out bodies of persons washed away in the tsunami that hit Chennai on Sunday. — N. Ramakrishnan

There were no adverse effects on MAPS reactors, the release said. Seawater entered the colony in some areas and relief work is in progress. There were reports, which could not be confirmed, that a private power plant in south Tamil Nadu was damaged.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has deputed Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar and Mr Dayanidhi Maran, Union Ministers, to monitor the relief work in the affected States.

He has also promised all assistance to the Tamil Nadu Government to carry out relief work.

More Stories on : Natural Calamities | Natural Calamities | Economy | Tamil Nadu

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