New Delhi: After an 8.6-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia today afternoon triggering a tsunami warning, India almost immediately swung into action - eight minutes to be precise. The Centre issued the first tsunami alert and warning at 2:16 pm even as the quake in the Indonesia stuck at 2:08 pm.
All states on the eastern coast and the Andaman and Nicobar islands were put on tsunami alert. Home Secretary RK Singh was in constant touch with the Chief Secretaries of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and the Andamans. All naval ships under the Eastern Naval Command were also put on alert.
According to the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), which provides information on oceanic activity, all tsunami warning systems were working well.
The Indian Air Force was kept ready for relief operations; six teams of 40 people each from the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) were positioned at Hindon near Delhi, and at Chennai and two C-130 J heavy-lift aircrafts of the Indian Air Force were on stand-by to leave for Port Blair with the NDRF teams and 10 tonnes of relief material.
Meanwhile, state governments set into motion standard emergency drills. People in the coastal districts were instructed to move to higher ground. All ships anchored on the coast were told to move into the high seas. On the beaches at Chennai, policemen used megaphones to ask people to leave, with little effect. Mobile phone networks were jammed in the city till 4 pm. In Andhra Pradesh, fishermen were asked to return from sea. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik convened an emergency meet following the tsunami alert. In the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, civilians were asked to move to higher ground. In Kolkata, metro trains were stopped at 2.40 pm for nearly an hour; as a precaution, passengers were evacuated.