COLOMBO, April 11(BSS/AFP) - Sri Lanka issued a tsunami warning across the island on Wednesday and the disaster management centre asked coastal residents to move inland to avoid being hit by any large waves.
A government statement said waves could hit the island's eastern port district of Trincomalee and urged an orderly evacuation of the coastal strip.
"Immediately evacuate the coastal area and go to high ground," said the government statement posted on the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) website.
DMC deputy director Sarath Kumara said the eastern and southern coasts of the island were most vulnerable and asked residents to move to safer locations.
"There is no need to panic," Kumara said. "It is the eastern and southern costs which are more vulnerable, but it is safer for people elsewhere along the coast also to leave to higher ground."
Residents in Trincomalee said thousands of people left their coastal homes, while the railway authorities suspended all coastline services.
"There is a near panic situation in Trincomalee," a resident contacted by telephone said, adding that the port city was packed
with last-minute shoppers trying to stock up before the traditional New Year on Friday.
In the island's southern town of Galle, there were similar scenes of people leaving coastal homes.
"There is a strong possibility of a tsunami hitting the island after the earthquake in Indonesia," meteorological department deputy director M. D. Dayananda said.
He said the quake in Indonesia was felt in Sri Lanka, which is 1,340 kilometres (840 miles) north-west from the location of the quake.
Some 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka in the 2004 tsunami, which was also caused by an undersea earthquake off Indonesia and devastated much of Sri Lanka's coastline.