Earthquake hits off Indian coast; Thailand issues tsunami warning
Monday, July 25, 2005
NEW DELHI -- A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit India's southern Nicobar Islands on Sunday, triggering panic in the islands and prompting Thailand to issue a tsunami warning for the region devastated by December's earthquake and tsunami.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damages. The islands are in the Indian Ocean between India and Thailand, where some 5,400 people died in the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami. By late Sunday, no tsunami was seen and Thailand withdrew its warning.
The Indian Ocean basin was battered by the December earthquake and tsunami which followed, killing at least 178,953 people in 11 countries and leaving 49,616 people missing, most of them presumed dead.
Sunday's quake also was felt in Indonesia's Aceh province, the area hit hardest in December tragedy.
Aceh residents, jolted from their sleep, said the quake rattled their homes for about 10 seconds. Some went outside to look for damage, returning minutes later when none was found.
In Sri Lanka, residents of Peraliya village -- where the Dec. 26 tsunami swept away a commuter train killing 2,000 -- fled to a Buddhist temple on higher ground. Some Sri Lanka naval ships were moved out to sea to reduce any chance of damage from waves or sea surges in port.
"We are taking all precautions in a situation like that and keeping the past in mind," said navy Commander J.K. Jayaratne.
The National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., reported that the quake was centered about 80 miles west of Misha, Nicobar Island.
"There is nothing to worry about," India's Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said Sunday in dismissing another tsunami. He said the sea level had not risen significantly.
The quake also jolted southern India's Tamil Nadu state, where the Dec. 26 tsunami killed more than 8,000 people.
In Thailand, the head of the National Disaster Warning Center, Plodprasop Suraswadi, formally lifted the tsunami warning about 90 minutes after issuing it on television broadcasts.
Samir Acharya, head of a nongovernmental organization in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said: "Everything is fine. I haven't heard of any damage."
"My driver ran up to my house and said some people had come out on the roads," said Acharya, who works with the Society for Andaman and Nicobar Ecology.