Marina Beach wore a deserted look on Sunday afternoon after police personnel hastily evacuated people from the sands here following a tsunami warning.

This comes in the wake of an earth quake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale that struck off west coast of Northern Sumatra in Indonesia on Sunday morning. The situation here returned to normality after the warning was lifted around evening.

Sources with the Regional Meteorological Department in Chennai said the powerful earth quake occurred 56 kms under the seabed at exactly 11.29.44 (IST). Fifteen minutes after the incident, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) in Hyderabad sent information to the IMD here clearly stating that there is no tsunami threat for Indian main land and the Andaman and Nicobar regions, sources added.

However, taking no chances, the State government alerted its officials and Police Department to carry out precautionary measures in the coastal areas in case of a high tide.

According to the District Revenue Officer (DRO) D. Munusamy, around 1.30 p.m. information on the possibility of high tides in areas along the beaches in Chennai was received.

“Teams under Tahsildars, Revenue Inspectors and Corporation officials with the assistance of the police were mobilised immediately to temporarily evacuate residents in coastal areas of Royapuram, Marina, Elliots, Thiruvanmiyur and Srinivasapuram,” added the DRO.

Police personnel reached the Marina around 2 p.m. and evacuated thousands of persons who had come to enjoy the Sunday on the sands. The entire stretch of Kamarajar Salai and also the Santhome High Road was closed for vehicular traffic, including buses, until the place was cleared.

“We managed to move out the huge crowd from Anna Square to the Light House without much panic in about an hour's time,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Triplicane) T.S. Anbu.

Senthilvasan from Vilivakkam and his friends was an upset bunch. “We come to play cricket every Sunday. Today we were unlucky,” Senthil said.

A similar evacuation drive was carried out at the Elliots Beach and coastal areas in Thiruvanmiyur and the East Coast Road.

The restriction was lifted around 5.00 p.m. and beachgoers were allowed into the sands in Marina and Elliots with heavy police presence. However, police prevented people from entering the water.

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Petlee PeterJune 28, 2012

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