Bay of Bengal earthquake jolts India’s east coast


New Delhi : A strong earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale north of the Andaman islands in the Bay of Bengal jolted the archipelago early Tuesday and led to tremors in several areas of eastern India, including parts of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal as well as Bangladesh. No casualties were reported.

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The quake that struck at 1.25 a.m. led to a tsunami warning that was later withdrawn.

Thousands of people in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and the Andamans spent the entire night on roads and fields fearing aftershocks.

The India Meteorological Department here reported the epicentre of the quake at latitude 14.10 north and longitude 93.00 east, just north of the Andaman Islands, and 1,020 km southeast of Orissa capital Bhubaneswar where the jolt was clearly felt.

“No casualties or damage have been reported so far,” Balaram Singh, officer on special duty in the Orissa revenue control room, told IANS about six hours after the temblor.

“We were sleeping. We woke up after our house was shaken and some of our windows opened suddenly,” said 45-year-old Sadasiba Mohapatra, a business executive who ran out of his Bhubaneswar apartment along with his wife.

“We felt as if our house will collapse. We stayed on the road for several hours,” he added.

The US Geological Survey immediately issued a tsunami alert for the coasts of India, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But the alert was withdrawn after a few hours when it became clear that no tsunami wave had been generated.

In Andhra Pradesh, high tidal waves along the Bay of Bengal coast raised fears of tsunami among fishermen and people living in the coastal belt. The Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, however, said such tidal waves were common after a quake.

“We were afraid to go back to our house and remained in an open ground till dawn,” said a resident of Kakinada town.

Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram, Vijayawada, Rajhamundry and Tirupati towns also felt the tremors.

Immediately after the quake, authorities in the southern state alerted fishermen along the coast and advised them not to venture into the sea.

“Though no tsunami alert was issued, we still advised fishermen not to go into the sea as a precautionary measure,” said Kishore Kumar, revenue divisional officer in Kakinada.

The Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), which runs the tsunami warning system, has said that there was no need for panic as a tsunami is not likely to occur as a result of the quake.

“Usually aftershocks are recorded after a quake but there are no chances of another big earthquake,” said INCOIS director S.C. Shenoi.

Minor tremors were also felt in Kolkata, the coastal areas of West Bengal and as far inland as Jharkhand, forcing people to come out of their houses.

People made frantic calls to friends and relatives after the jolt. A few houses in the Jharkhand capital Ranchi suffered minor cracks.

In Bangladesh, Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet and the southern coastal region felt the quake at 2.55 a.m. local time, Star Online reported.

“The tsunami alert was issued at around 4 a.m. It was withdrawn at about 6.40 a.m.,” Meteorologist Mominul Islam told The Daily Star newspaper.