July 24, 2005

Strong quake shakes India’s tsunami-hit islands

PORT BLAIR, India (Reuters) - India's Andaman and Nicobar
islands, devastated by last year's tsunami, were shaken by a
strong quake on Sunday but a senior official said he saw no
danger of new killer waves hitting the Indian Ocean

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake hit the
area off India's eastern coast at 1542 GMT measuring 7.0, and
initially urged authorities near its epicenter to be aware of
the risk of local tsunamis.

But it also said on its web site that they could assume the
danger had passed if no tsunamis had been observed within an
hour of the tremor.

"We have got reports from all inhabited islands through the
police and there has been no casualties or damage," the island
chain's federal top administrator Ram Kapse told Reuters,
speaking over an hour after the tremor.

"There has been no tsunami alert," he said.

Sunday's earthquake came seven months after the Dec. 26
tsunami, triggered by a 9.15 magnitude earthquake. Some 227,000
are dead or missing after the December tsunami.

Thailand issued a tsunami alert and ordered thousands of
people living along the Andaman Sea coastline to evacuate after
the quake, which hit about 1,110 km (690 miles) southwest of

"There is a possibility that a tsunami can happen. Start
the alert and evacuation," Plodprasob Surasawadee, head of the
National Disaster Warning Center, said in a message broadcast
on all television networks.

The warning was issued for six southern provinces hit by
last year's tsunami, including the tourist island of Phuket and
Phang Nga, Krabi and Satun provinces.


In Indonesia's Aceh, further to the south of the region
where the quake struck and the area worst hit by massive waves
on Dec. 26, an official said there was a possibility of a
tsunami reaching the province.

"I have called radio, police and local government about
this so they can warn residents to be careful, but I don't know
whether this information has gone to the public or not," said
Syahnan, head of the meteorology and geophysics agency in Aceh.

"Although it would be coming from a far location, there is
still a possibility (a tsunami) will reach here."

Residents in Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra island
said they felt the quake, but there appeared to be little
panic. Since Dec. 26, countless aftershocks have struck Aceh.

The Indian government has said around 3,000 people died on
the Andaman and Nicobar islands in last year's tsunami.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands are situated on an undersea
faultline that continues to Indonesia to the south. The more
than 550 islands in the remote Indian Ocean archipelago have
experienced hundreds of aftershocks since December.

In the capital Port Blair, hundreds of people ran out of
their homes in panic and rushed to open places after Sunday's

"The quake was felt in all the islands of the Andaman and
Nicobar chain," a police official told Reuters.