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Tsunamis devastate south India

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More than 1,800 people were feared killed and hundreds more went missing when tsunamis triggered by a massive earthquake -- the biggest in four decades at 8.9 on the Richter scale, according to the US Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Centre -- near the Indonesian islands of Sumatra slammed into the southern peninsular coast of India on Sunday morning.

Note: The toll is likely to change as the situation develops.

At least 1,500 died in Tamil Nadu alone as the waves swept through the coastal areas, bringing in their wake death and destruction.

In Nagapattinam district, around 700 people died, followed by Kanyakumari (250) and Cuddalore (200).

Around 125 perished in the state capital of Chennai. Morning walkers on Marina Beach and residents in the Foreshore Estate slums almost abutting the sea got a rude shock when waves leaping up to 30-40 ft crossed the beach and slammed into the houses nearby, catching people unawares. Most of the victims were women and children who could not get out of the way.

The second unit of the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam was shut down after water entered the plant.

About 500 tourists were stranded at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari following the tremors. Helicopters from nearby Thiruvananthapuram were pressed into service to rescue them.

People watch the scene at Marina Beach in Chennai.

Also read: What is a tsunami?

Photographs: STR/AFP/Getty Images

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