News of Indonesian quake came after meet to review disaster preparedness

By a strange coincidence, news of a massive earthquake off the Indonesian coast triggering fears of a tsunami came just after the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Lt Governor held a high-level meeting to review its disaster preparedness.

As the tremors were felt across the islands, a tsunami warning was issued immediately and residents in the coastal belts asked to move to higher areas, a press release from Lt. Governor. Bhopinder Singh's office said on Wednesday. The standard operating procedure was initiated, the release said. Ships anchored in the ports were directed to move into deep seas.

Fishermen who had ventured into the sea were asked to return. Standard drills were performed in all coastal areas that could be hit by tsunami.

The Chief Secretary and senior officers supervised the operations in coordination with the Unified Defence Command. Warning and alert messages were passed on to the district authorities and to special relief officers in the southern group of the islands through emergency operation centres and control rooms. About 1,500 people in vulnerable areas of Campbell Bay, Kamorta, Nancowrie, Katchal and Car Nicobar were evacuated.

The government's outpost at Indira Point, comprising Police, Forest and Medical Departments, was airlifted by helicopter to Campbell Bay.

Earlier, in the review meeting held in the morning, Lt Gen (Retd) Bhopinder Singh had directed officials to ensure that the early warning system, evacuation drills and alarm system were in working condition on getting a warning or alert of the occurrence of a disaster.