New Delhi: Sirens wailed and panic spread in
Pillaichavady village near Puducherry early on Wednesday with a
warning of an impending tsunami following a massive undersea
earthquake off the Sumatra coast.
The administrative machinery swung into action as it was
informed of a 8.2 magnitude under sea earthquake in north
Sumatra in Indonesia at 6:35 a.m., within five minutes of the
Coastal communities were evacuated and relief camps were
set up in Pillaichavady in Puducherry once the scientists
identified the earthquake to be tsunamigenic and issued
inundation maps for the coastal regions.
However, this was only part of a tsunami drill to test the
preparedness of the administrative machinery to face a
disaster of such huge magnitude.
Twentyone countries in the Indian Ocean Rim took part in
the `Indian Ocean Wave 11` (IOWAVE `11) exercise to simulate
the events of the December 26, 2004 tsunami that left a trail
of death and destruction in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and
other Indian Ocean countries.
Seventeen villages in Maharashtra and Orissa were also
evacuated as part of the exercise, Satish Shenai, Director of
the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services
(Incois) in Hyderabad said.
The Indian Tsunami Warning Centre and Mitigation System,
housed in Incois, simulated the first earthquake of 8.2
magnitude at 6:30 a.m. and within five minutes, the National
Disaster Management Authority, the Coast Guard and the Navy
Thus began the 12-hour exercise to test the preparedness
of the administrative machinery to handle such disasters.
By 6:45 a.m., Incois issued an updated bulletin giving a
more precise location of the quake and raising the magnitude
from 8.2 to 8.8 on the Richter scale.
Half-an-hour later the exact location of the earthquake
was identified and the magnitude was revised to 9.2 on the
Three types of bulletins were issued -- the first for an
tsunami alert, another for a tsunami watch and a final for a
Maps were issued for the third category and villages
covered under the warning were evacuated.
"This exercise was meant for testing the communications
system and preparedness for such disaster," Shenai said.
Ten states and union territories, three nuclear plants,
six port authorities, Navy, Coast Guard and the Union Home
Ministry Control Room were involved in the exercise. These
were the level one participants and only the administrative
wings of these institutions were involved in the exercise.