Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tsunami alerts sounded after big quake

New Delhi - India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives issued tsunami alerts on Wednesday after a massive earthquake off the west coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island, officials said.

Thousands died across the region when a December 2004 tsunami struck after a powerful quake off Sumatra.

"We are issuing the alert after the quake in Indonesia," a Sri Lankan meteorology department spokesperson said, adding that Sri Lanka could be affected following Wednesday's 7.9-magnitude quake.

The island nation's coastlines were devastated in 2004, with 31 000 killed and one million people left homeless.

"Those living close to the coastline in the northern, southern and southwestern coasts of Sri Lanka are hereby warned to stay away from the coastline and move to safer areas," a statement from the metereological department said.

Officials in Sri Lanka said the alert was also sounded for the nearby Maldives, which was badly hit by the last tsunami.

India's home ministry warned residents of the Andaman and Nicobar island chain, closer to Indonesia than the Indian mainland, as well as those on India's southeast coast to take precautions.

"For the Andaman and Nicobar islands, yes, we have issued an alert. The (eastern) coastal states have also been alerted, but it's a precautionary measure," a ministry spokesperson said.

India lost more than 16 000 people in the tsunami, which killed a total of around 220 000 people and left material damage estimated by the United Nations at $2,5-billion.

Source: IOL

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