Operations at the Chennai port came to a standstill on Wednesday afternoon, following a tsunami alert issued for the entire Indian Ocean. Fearing the worst scenario, officials suspended operations from 2.50 p.m. The Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) wore a deserted look as employees were evacuated. Only a few support staff and those working with the transport wing and on-board vessels were left behind.
Initially, it was decided to allow trucks carrying import boxes to move out of the harbour. Activities at the ‘in' and ‘out' gates were suspended after 3 p.m. ChPT Chairman Atulya Misra conducted a high-level meeting with officials to supervise the evacuation work. . There were 15 vessels at berths and 10 on the outer anchorage at that time. One of the container terminal operators suspended crane operations.
When a second alert came in around 4.15 p.m., Port officials thought of evacuating vessels as well. But, with the passage of time, the alert was downgraded and out of the 15 vessels, only two were moved to the high seas and the rest were in berths.
“It is safer to keep the vessels at the high seas, as allowing them to be berthed would damage the vessel as well as the solid structure. ,” said an official. On Wednesday (from 6.a.m. to 5 p.m.) the ChPT discharged about 800 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units of containers against the normal 1,800.