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No need to panic, says geologist

Venkatanathan had earlier said a major quake could strike Assam on Friday.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2006 17:12 IST

The Madras University geologist who has predicted a possible earthquake on Friday in Assam on the basis of planetary positions, says there is absolutely no need for panic.

"Since I have given 70 per cent probability of the occurrence of the earthquake, there is still 30 per cent chance of its non-occurrence," N Venkatanathan of the applied geology department said on Thursday.

Venkatanathan said that his predictions were fully based on theoretical calculations involving astrophysics and geophysics and the analysis of past events in a particular place.

However he said the success rate of his predictions achieved so far is 75 per cent. In other words, there is a 25 per cent chance the earthquake will not occur.

"As a scientist specialising in this area, I released the results of my calculations to forewarn the government and not to cause panic among the people," he said.

The Assam government apparently is taking the warnings seriously.

Rupak Kumar Mazumder, the Assam state project officer for disaster management, in an e-mail to Venkatanathan has requested him "to keep in touch so that I can inform you about actions taken by the government of Assam on the basis of the valuable information that you are posting to me".

Meanwhile, Arun Bapat, a seismologist from Pune who had issued an earthquake alert on the basis of rise in atmospheric temperature, told that he might go to Assam on Thursday depending on the exigencies.

Bapat, who was contacted by Assam government officials on Thursday, said he has advised them to look out for drop in water level in wells and rivers and other parameters that are "short term earthquake precursors".

Bapat said his warning was based on the rise of atmospheric temperature that normally precedes 100 to 200 days before a major quake.

He said that in a particular place the thermal rise up to 6 degrees C had been noticed since June this year. He said he would not give the exact time of occurrence because it is not really possible.

Referring to the warning by Venkatanathan, he said, "I have no knowledge about the planetary connection to earthquakes."

In any case, he said he would not approve a warning directly to the people "as it causes fear psychosis".

Bapat said that if Venkatanathan's prediction was really correct, one should see a marked increase in hospital admissions.

"Like animals, humans are good precursors of impending quake," he said.

"Hospital outpatient cases usually rise up to six times prior to earthquakes and I have advised the Assam government to monitor the outpatient cases."

"If there is going to be an earthquake on Friday, Thursday's figures will be very high."

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