Chennai: June 28, 2008 – A series of three undersea earthquakes, two of high intensity, struck off the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean on Friday, triggering fears of another tsunami. Buildings shook and there was a power blackout in the Islands, forcing panic-stricken people out of their homes and offices. There were no casualties but tremors were felt as far away as along the eastern coast at Chennai, where offices emptied out.
The first earthquake, of magnitude 6.7 on the Richter scale, struck at 5.10 pm around 115 km southwest of Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The epicentre lay under the sea at a depth of 35 km. The intensity of the quake was such that it shook the ground and rattled buildings in the already ravaged Islands, constantly hit by earthquakes after the devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004.
The second quake of moderate intensity — 5 on the Richter scale — occurred at 6 pm, while the third one —a strong earthquake of magnitude 6.1 — was recorded 135 km southwest of Port Blair at 6.38 pm. It occurred at a depth of 35km.
S N Jha, deputy commissioner, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, told The Times of India that there was no loss of life or damage to property. There was only a power shutdown, that too in some areas of the island. “Power has been shut down as a precautionary measure. It will be restored in a few hours,” he said.
“The situation is normal. People initially panicked, but normalcy has returned. The administration is prepared to meet any contingency,” he said.
Another government official said field officers had rushed out immediately to assess the damage, and there were no reports of any loss of life or property.