Oh, my God! What a horrifying last night we have had here in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands yet another time, when the Islanders were abruptly jolted by the massive earthquake at 1.55 a.m. IST!
We rushed out of our houses and took shelter under the open sky and returned indoors only after the strong tremors had subsided, after about a minute’s run.
It was only through the NDTV News channel on TV that we, the Islanders came to know that a Tsunami Warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia amongst other countries of the region and that the massive earthquake measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, the epicenter of the same being about 169 miles North from Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
My knowledge thanks to the experience gathered from my comprehensive stints with the Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction initiatives in association with various NGOs over the past five years in the Islands that Earthquakes of this magnitude have the potential to generate a destructive local tsunami and sometimes a destructive regional tsunami along coasts located usually no more than a thousand kilometers from the earthquake’s epicenter, prompts even more caution and carefulness.
The rest of the night was spent watching various News channels on TV, trying to get the latest updates on the incident and frequently trying to get a feel of the environment outdoors. As is usual during an earthquake of such a high intensity, the normal breeze had stopped flowing and there was an uncanny silence all around, almost like the one that precedes a Tsunami due to the receding sea.
In fact, the Andaman Sea area witnesses frequent earthquakes caused by the meeting of the Indian plate with the Burmese micro plate along an area known as the Andaman trench.
The Tsunami Warning was cancelled after about 4 a.m. IST as the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre reported that there was no noticeable Tsunami in the region. If a tsunami were to strike, it would reach the coastlines of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia within one to three hours i.e. from 2.55 am IST to 4.25 am IST.
This morning, things were back to normal in the Island territory with the children going to schools and the adults going to work. The bottom-line is that after having experienced the gargantuan earthquake of 9.2 magnitude, followed by the most destructive Tsunami of 24th December, 2004, the Islanders, here, have learnt not to panic and to live with it fearlessly, while trying their hardest possible to make peace with the traumatized nature by living with it and not at the expense of it.
It’s not Man versus Nature; it’s Man with Nature that ought to be the notion in the interest of humanity.