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Sea quake shakes city

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake centred 500km south of Calcutta at a depth of 5km in the Bay of Bengal shook the city and most parts of eastern India at 9.51pm on Wednesday.

The epicentre of the sea earthquake was about 290km southeast of Puri and 650km south-southwest of Dhaka. It triggered ground tremors across India’s eastern seaboard but wasn’t strong enough to cause a tsunami, earth sciences ministry officials said.

“It was a moderate earthquake and we don’t expect a tsunami at this magnitude,” said Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry.

The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services in Hyderabad, which tracks all major undersea quakes, issued a bulletin at 10.11pm that said the tremor posed “no tsunami threat to India”.

The message was lost on terrified tourists across the east coast as tens of them called up Metro until late on Wednesday night to know if there was a tsunami alert. A caller from Mandarmani said: “We felt the earthquake. It’s all over TV and there’s a rumour that a tsunami may follow.” In Digha, policemen asked tourists to vacate the beach and return to their hotels.

The quake caused a flutter among Calcuttans too. “I was sleeping when I suddenly felt the bed shaking,” Rajiv Sarkar of Behala wrote on Facebook.

Tulika Chakraborty, an MBA student from Salt Lake, wrote: “My laptop had almost toppled over from the table. I had got confused and later learnt that I just experienced an earthquake.”

Trinamul Congress MP Dinesh Trivedi, who was in Delhi, said he got a call from wife Minal a little before 10pm. “She said the glasses in our (Ballygunge Circular Road) flat were rattling.”

Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Darren Sammy provided the IPL connection to the quake on his Twitter handle @darrensammy88: “Oh my did anyone in Ranchi felt that #earthquake. I swear someone was shaking my bed from under me.”