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Killer waves coming? Just rumours

Everyone across the Andaman and Nicobar Islands believes there is going to be a major tsunami on December 26. Tribal lords at in Car Nicobar asked the people to stay indoors.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2005 17:04 IST

EVERYONE ACROSS the Andaman and Nicobar Islands believes there is going to be a major tsunami on December 26. Tribal lords at Hutbay and in Car Nicobar and other southern islands have asked the people to stay indoors.

This is no ordinary rumour. Its source is the office of the chief secretary, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Here is what happened.

The chief secretary's office received a letter from Ashim Khurana, joint secretary (Disaster Management), Home Ministry, in October. The letter, sent on September 28, talked of the "possibility of a major earthquake near Indonesia in the near future".

The letter got its information from an article, published in science journal "Nature" on June 6 this year, by a group of scientists led by John McCloskey from the university of Ulster, UK. The scientists had earlier predicted the earthquake that hit Sumatra on March 28 this year.

The paper talked about the possibility of an earthquake near Indonesia measuring between 7.5 and 10 on the Richter scale. They claimed a tsunami would follow.

Government officials in Port Blair said as soon as the letter arrived, the news spread like wild fire and copies of the letter were circulated. "People do not understand that this is a possibility and not a prediction. Many people have not even begun reconstructing their shops," said an official.

The home ministry informed the science and technology department, which agreed with the article. Australia also closely followed the Nature article. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation interviewed John McCloskey and an Australian expert John Schneider on June 10. The two concluded that the quake and the tsunami would impact Australia. The waves, in such a case, would reach Perth, they said.