Red alert sounded in Digha and South 24 Parganas

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East Midnapore/Kolkata, Sep 12 (UNI) The district administration today sounded a red alert in the coastal areas of Digha and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal following fears of tsunami in the wake of the 7.9 magnitude powerful earthquake, which rocked Sumatra near Indonesia.

Among those areas, where an alarm had been sounded, were Mandarmani, Sankarpur, Khejuri, Ramnagar and Contai coastal areas of East Midnapur and South 24 Parganas districts this evening.

In Digha, a major tourist spot in the state, people were seen running helter skelter trying to reach higher land nearby, police said adding the visitors had been asked to stay indoors and the fishermen instructed not to venture into the deep sea.

Digha Police Station Officer-in-Charge Raja Mukherjee said waves were normally high at this time of the day and so there was nothing to be alarmed.

However, the shores had been cleared as a precautionary measure.

'' Trawlers have been asked to return to shore and local people and tourists to keep off the coastal areas, '' he said.

Contai SDO Namita Roy Mallick said fishermen there had also been warned of a possible tsunami and advised to reach the nearest safe destination.

Local clubs and voluntary organisation were cooperating in sending the tourists to their destinations, the SDO added.

The condition of Mandarmani, far into the sea, was at its worst.

Streets in these areas in Digha and South 24 Parganas were practically deserted with the regular wave of tourists leaving their hotels and boarding buses back home.

Tourists, who had assembled in Digha to enjoy the high tide today, were trying to capture all means of transport in a frantic bid to return homes.

A general state of fear-psychosis was prevailing in these areas.

The OC said the tide is expected to rise after midnight.

All precautions had been taken to clear the shores and minimise risk to human lives.

Digha Sankarpur Development Authority Chairman Sankar Mandal along with local Block Development Officers and OC Digha Police station were seen moving towards the sea shore trying to instil confidence among the tourists.

'' We are ready to deal with any situation, '' the SDO said.

Meanwhile, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration sounded a tsunami warning following the Union Home Ministry's alert.

" A tsunami warning was issued at 1755 hrs this evening, " South Andamans Commissioner K S Singh, Chairman of the Disaster Management Committee, said.

In the Nicobar area, police were going around spreading the alert, while in some places, loudspeakers were being pressed into service to warn the people.

There was reportedly some panic, and people were rushing inland and to hilly areas in the interior.

UNI

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