THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Mild tremors were felt in various parts of the city on Wednesday, around 2.10 pm and 4.15 pm, creating panic at least in the coastal region as rumours of a possible tsunami reaching the shore spread thick and fast. The tremors were experienced in hih-rise buildings in various parts of the city, including Technopark, from where tegchies were evacuated.
In Transport Bhavan at Fort, after the tremor, panic-stricken employees fled the building, while in Shangumugham and Kovalam beaches, the tourists, including foreigners, were asked to evacuate by the police and lifeguards after a ‘tsunami watch’ was issued by the authorities.
In Technopark, the employees working within the Pamba block noticed lights flickering and objects placed on their desks falling off as a result of the tremor. The techies working in the Pamba, Periyar and Tejaswani blocks were asked to evacuate and they were seen anxiously waiting outside. By 4.30 pm, employees of companies like R R Donelley, Infosys and UST Global were seen crowding around the basement anxiously talking to each other and sharing the fright they experienced.
Vivek Cleetus and his friends, who work for R R Donelley said: “Most of our staff members were asked to leave the office after the vibrations which we all felt in the building.”
In Kovalam beach, all the foreigners were asked to vacate the beach soon after the tsunami watch was issued by the authorities.
However, in Sanghumugham, the scene was different as most of the visitors who were spending their evenings with their family rushed back after the police issued an alert; but hundreds of people, mostly curious youngsters, gathered on the seashore to catch a glimpse of the ‘tsunami’. This gave a tough time for the policemen as they tried to remove them from the spot.
“People were asked to evacuate the beach by around 4.30 pm. From then on, our men, with the help of lifeguards, were trying to get the people move out,’’ said Madhusoodhan Nair, Superintendent of Police.
The ‘live’ telecast of the TV channels added to the panic as most of the regional channels predicted a tsunami to hit the Thiruvananthapuram coast anytime between 5 pm and 5.30 pm at a time when the national news channels were flashing that there was no need to panic. There were frantic calls from people to the Indian Meteorological Department office and newspaper offices in the city.
Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) Director John Mathai told newspersons that the tremor was an after-effect of a major earthquake that occurred at Sumatra in Indonesia, measuring 8.9 on the Richter Scale, and the strong aftershocks that followed. The district authorities also issued a warning to fishermen not to venture out to the sea.