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Underwater quake off Nicobar triggers tsunami fears

world Updated: Jun 13, 2010 14:44 IST

An underwater earthquake off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands triggered tsunami fears in India and Sri Lanka early Sunday.

An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale was recorded off the Nicobar coast and the north-west tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island around 1 am (local Sri Lanka time).

Soon after, a 'tsunami watch' alert was issued by the US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC).

According to reports here, many parts of Sri Lanka felt the tremor.

The Daily Mirror website quoted the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau as saying that tremors were felt across central and western Sri Lanka.

Subsequently, a tsunami watch was advised.

"The tremor was felt in Kandy, Anuradhapura, Badulla and parts of Colombo, the Geological Survey and mines Bureau said," the website reported.

"A regional tsunami watch was in effect for all areas of the Indian Ocean," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said on its website, adding that the epicentre of the quake was 107 miles west of Misha on the Nicobar Islands at a depth of 20.5 miles.

By about 2:30 am, the PTWC said on its website that the area of watch had been reduced to India.

"Due to the downward revision of the earthquake magnitude as well as additional analysis of the earthquake the area of watch is now reduced to only India," the PTWC said in a bulletin meant for all areas in the Indian Ocean.

While recording the earthquake, the PTWC said that there was a possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts located "no more than a hundred kilometres from the earthquake epicentre."

An official at the Sri Lankan Meteorological Department said the situation was being monitored. The eastern coast was put on alert, the official said, adding that tsunami waves could take about two-and-half hours to reach the Lankan coast.

The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, devastated the coasts of several countries in the region. In Sri Lanka, thousands had lost their lives and countless more rendered homeless.