Tremors rock several parts of southern states

Chennai: Southern Indian states felt a jolt today with tremors rocking several parts, prompting panicked people to flock to open spaces as grim memories of the 2004 killer tsunami returned to haunt many.

Tremors were felt in Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram and several other cities following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia, that set of fears of Tsunami.

However, there were no reports of damage to property or loss of lives.

The Kerala government issued an alert across the state, particularly for the coastal belt, as its most parts experienced mild tremor in the wake of massive Sumatra earthquake triggering fears of tsunami.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, said there was no need for panic though the alert was issued just for people and asked authorities to maintain vigil.

Bangalore and its neighbourhood were rocked by tremors, MET Department officials said.

Tremors were also felt in Hubli-Dharwad region, they said, adding, no damage has been reported from anywhere so far.

Bangalore Metro Rail services were suspended around 2.40 pm and passengers were asked to vacate stations. People rushed to safety from high-rise buildings and offices after the tremors.

Operations at the Chennai Port had also been suspended in the wake of the tsunami warning. Six National Disaster Response Force teams had been moved to Chennai.

Operations at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam and work at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant were on without hindrance though they were on alert following the quake, officials said.

But in Chennai, initial panic gave way to curiosity with eager residents flocking to the famed Marina beach to see a possible tsunami.

The fear of a tsunami in the wake of the strong quake kept the officials busy with police personnel dissuading the curious onlookers to stay away from the sands.

"We want to see tsunami live," said an elderly woman, who was among the large number of people assembled at the beach, noting the earlier warning that the tsunami was to hit Chennai around 1700 hours.

The quake brought with it its share of chaos and confusion as vehicular traffic movement in Chennai, already suffering due to ongoing Metro Rail work, took a hit.

With offices closing early and schools declaring holiday, people rushed home in hordes, resulting in crowded scenes at the railway stations and bus depots.

Micro-blogging sites and online community portals were flooded with messages of traffic chaos. Cellphone services were affected for a while before slowly resuming normalcy.

On December 26, 2004, a tsunami had struck the Tamil Nadu Coast line, resulting in massive damage whose rehabilitation is happening even today.

People in various parts of Kerala including state capital and Kochi experienced mild tremors in the wake of Indonesian quake.

In Kochi, panic prevailed for a while as people came out of offices and highrise buildings. However, no damage to buildings or other properties reported from anywhere in the state.