Colombo, Sep 13 (UNI) Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today ordered police to shut schools in the coastline as a ''preventive measure'' after reports of a third powerful earthquake in Indonesia within the past 24 hours, a top presidential official here said.
''Although there are no immediate tsunami warnings, the President has issued a special instruction to the police this morning to shut the schools in the coastline areas as a preventive measure,'' Presidential Media Director Chandrapala Liyanage told UNI over the phone.
''There were three major tremors within the past 24 hours, including one this morning in Indonesia and we do not want to take chances with the children,'' he said.
Mr. Liyanage also said that the residents were also advised not to panic but to stay away from the water and low-lying foreshore areas.
The Sri Lankan Meteorological department in a statement said that the latest earthquake in Indonesia with the magnitude of 7.8 in the Richter scale could have ''potential to generate a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.'' It also said that the authorities ''closely monitoring the development''and would keep the people informed on a regular basis.
The massive December 26, 2004, earthquake (9.0) that triggered a tsunami off the coast of Sumatra hit two thirds of Sri Lankan island, killing nearly 40,000 people within a few minutes and island nation has not fully recovered from the hit.