India has withdrawn its tsunami warning issued earlier today, which was issued following the massive earthquake which rocked the region earlier today, measuring 8.6 on the Richter scale in Indonesia this afternoon India Standard Time (IST), reported the Press Trust of India.
A second round of tremors were felt in Indian cities around 4:25 IST, which did not merit a continued tsunami warning. However, the Nicobar Islands (which are the region of India closest to the earthquakes epicenter) are still on alert.
The original quake struck at 2:08 pm IST. First reports measured it as 8.9 on the Richter scale. Although it was later downgraded to an 8.6 (still high enough to stay on tsunami alert).
A devastating earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale hit Indonesia on December 26, 2004, triggering a tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people in 13 countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. It seems clear that since then countries in the region have insured that they are better prepared if disaster strikes again.
Officials in Andaman and the Nicobar Islands are prepared for an emergency. Citizens have been asked to move off of the coast, and some residents of South Andaman have been evacuated by the government as a precaution.
The Indian Air Force was also at the ready with relief operations. Six teams of 40 people each from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) were positioned at the Hindon close to Dehli and at Chennai. Two C-130 J heavy-lift aircrafts of the Indian Air Force are leaving for Port Blair with NDRF teams and 10 tons of relief supplies.
Before the first strong aftershocks hit, Home Secretary RK Singh was already optimistic.
As of now there are no signs of a tsunami, he said.
Emergency drills went into effect just minutes after the first quake hit in Tamil Nadu and Andraha Pradesh. On Chennai's beaches, police officers ordered people to evacuate, though they were largely ignored. Mobile phone networks were jammed for hours after being flooded with phone calls as people called family members and friends.
In Andraha, fishermen were asked to stay off the water. In Andaman and the Nicobar Island, civilians were asked to relocate to higher ground. In Kolkata, metro trains were shut down for nearly an hour starting at 2:40 pm and passengers were evacuated as a precaution.
The earthquake was felt as far as Singapore and Thailand, and high-rise apartments and offices in on Malaysia's west coast shook for over a minute. In India, tremors were felt in Mumbia and Bangalore, lasting several seconds each. In Bhubaneshwar people were seen fleeing their homes and offices. No damages have been reported so far.
NDTV viewer AG Kalidass sent an email from Bangalore, writing, We were feeling our building shaking.
Shyam Agarwa, another viewer, wrote, I am from Kolkata. Just now a few minutes back heavy stroke of earthquake has been observed here.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the powerful quake originated 20 miles (33 kilometers) beneath the ocean floor, around 308 miles (495 kilometers) from Aceh's provincial capital.