Shaken Chennaiites get holiday

The tremors that hit various parts of the city on Wednesday set off a series of initial thoughts among Chennaiites before throwing their lives out of gear for a few hours.

The initial reactions ranged from doubts about their own health to eerie thoughts of the supernatural. “I strangely thought it was supernatural.

It is kind of okay for chairs and tables to dance, but for cars to dance for one whole minute was strange until we realised it was a tremor,” says Mr Saravanan, a car driver at the secretariat.

Several judges and lawyers at the HC complex initially thought something was wrong with them. “I felt giddy and thought my blood pressure had shot up.

Then I saw the chairs shaking and realised it must be something else,” said a judge, like several lawyers.

“I had just had lunch and felt giddy. Then I saw people rushing down from the first floor screaming about the earthquake. We immediately left the premises,” says Mr Prabhakaran, president, Tamil Nadu advocates association.

Once the realisation set in, life was thrown out of gear. While mobile phones got jammed, there was panic on several roads when employees rushed out of their offices. In the secretariat, employees of the Namakkal Kavignar Maaligai rushed out of the building when the ‘structure was shaking.’

“I could see the chairs and tables shaking,” says Mr Santhanam, handlooms secretary, sitting on the 10th floor. When the secretariat experienced tremors a second time around 4 pm, the secretaries rushed out with their files and the staff also left. Government offices in Thalamuthu Natarajan building in Egmore and Chepauk also emptied out.

The police asked about 150 foreigners sunbathing on the Mahabalipuram shores to get to safety and stay indoors at night too.

Chief secretary Debendranath Sarangi told Deccan Chronicle that the government mechanism was in place to handle any eventuality. “Tsunami will hit us only after hitting Andaman and Nicobar. I’m in touch with officials in Andaman and they have ruled out any possibility of tsunami.”

For several Chennaiites, the tsunami warning was time to gather at Marina beach with families to witness the tsunami ‘live’. But Besant Nagar Elliots beach wore a deserted look.

MRTS services stopped for 2 hrs

Train services were hit by the mild tremors in the city with Southern Railway suspending MRTS services between Beach and Velachery for nearly two hours from 3.45 pm.

Instructions were given to halt the MRTS trains at both the terminal points at Velachery and Beach soon after the tremors were confirmed, according to divisional railway manager S. Anantharaman.

The services were restored only at 5.30 pm after the engineers reviewed the situation and gave the go- ahead, he added, explaining that that the step was taken in the interest of public safety.

The disruption in service , however, inconvenienced several passengers like law college student, M. Kannan who had to board an overcrowded MTC bus to reach his home in Taramani.

Other passengers heading for Mylapore, Indira Nagar, Adyar, Tiruvanmiyur and Velachery too were similarly inconvenienced.

Secretariat staffer, Tamilselvi Jayakumar took on an autorickshaw when the trains did not run, but still reached late to pick up her daughter, Senthamiselvi, from her dance class in Mylapore.

Still, she has no quarrel with the railways for suspending the services as she believes it was acting in the people’s interests.

Some passengers on Beach-Tambaram route claimed they had a free ride as a result of the scare.

“The railway staff prevented scores of passengers heading for the ticket counter and diverted them to the platforms. When I asked if I could board a train without a ticket, they said the service was free today and no one would be penalised,” recounted court employee, Siva Arumugam.

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