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Strong waves kill over 70 in Andhra Pradesh

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad | December 26, 2004 21:23 IST
Last Updated: December 26, 2004 21:42 IST

Over 70 deaths were reported in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh due to the strong tremors and resultant waves in the eastern coast, Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said on Sunday evening.

However, the PTI quoted Home Minister Shivraj Patil as saying that the figure could be as high as 200. 

A severe earthquake, measuring, according to the US Geological Survey, 8.9 on the Richter scale, in the Indian Ocean off the Sumatra Island in Indonesia on Sunday morning caused the tremors and waves.

Relief Commissioner Asutosh Mishra said all the nine coastal districts were affected. However, the four south coastal districts were the worst affected, he said.

Deaths were caused reported from Krishna, Prakasam, Nellore, Guntur, West Godavari and Srikakulam districts due to tsunami waves inundating the coastal areas.   

Some of the victims had gone to take a holy dip in the sea on the eve of the full moon day in the Hindu holy month of Margasirsa, while others were drowned when they rushed out of their houses and huts after the earth shook.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who rang up Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was apprised of the situation.

Earlier, the CM surveyed the affected areas in Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts from a helicopter. 

"We have taken up massive evacuation from low-lying areas of the coastal districts and have alerted the army, air force and navy. A control room has been set up in the state secretariat to monitor the situation. The extent of damage is yet to be assessed," the CM said.   

He said tremors and the resultant waves had marooned several fishing villages.

Services of the Coast Guard have been requisitioned to trace missing fishermen who had ventured into the sea, he said.

The authorities informed the CM that people in the coastal areas panicked when tremors measuring 5.3 to 5.8 on the Richter scale jolted the 1,030-km Andhra coast at least four times.

District authorities took the help of the fire services, police, revenue, mandal and civic officials and personnel to provide relief and undertake rescue operations.

Hospitals have been put on alert to treat the injured. Buses, lorries and tractors have been mobilised to shift affected villagers to safety. Three naval helicopters have been requisitioned to drop food packets and water sachets to people in marooned villages. 

Vizag Cyclone Warning Centre Director J V M Naidu said there was nothing to worry since the epicentre of the quake was located more than 2,000 km away. Only minor aftershocks of the severe earthquake were likely to occur, he added.


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