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Monday, 25 July, 2005

Strong earthquake hits Indian Ocean

A strong earthquake of magnitude 7.2 hit India's southern Nicobar Islands Sunday night (July 24th), but there were no immediate reports of any casualties or destruction, a meteorologist said. The same area was battered by the Dec. 26 Asian tsunami, which killed at least 178,000 people in 11 countries.

The epicenter of Sunday's quake, which hit at 9:12 p.m. local time, was near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that lie between India and Thailand, said IBA Rao, a duty officer in New Delhi's Meteorology Department. The quake also jolted southern India's Tamil Nadu state.

"There is nothing to worry about," India's Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said.
Thai authorities issued a tsunami warning for the Indian Ocean Sunday night.

The official warning was given just before midnight on a national television broadcast on all channels, although warnings were issued at a local level earlier in the southern sea coast areas under threat, according to local television channels.

Residents of at least one coastal village in Sri Lanka fled to high ground and the navy moved some ships out to sea as a precaution after a strong earthquake hit the Nicobar Islands late on Sunday, prompting fears of another tsunami disaster. Sri Lanka's Meteorology Department said there was no threat of a tsunami hitting the island nation after several hours had passed without any sign of giant waves.

"The time for that (to hit) has passed and also the intensity of the quake was low," said department official S.D. Jayasinghe.

On Sunday, some residents of Peraliya village, where the Dec. 26 tsunami swept away a commuter train killing 2,000, fled to a Buddhist temple on high ground when first word came via the Internet that there had been an earthquake in Nicobar. There were few reports of fear or panic in other parts of Sri Lanka. But some navy ships that had been in ports were moved out to sea to reduce any chance of damage from waves or sea surges.

"We are taking all precautions in a situation like that and keeping the past in mind," said a navy Commander J.K. Jayaratne.

(Source: AP via The Jerusalem Post)
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