Legal action will be taken against astrologers, academics or others who make predictions on natural disasters and thereby cause panic among the people, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Amaraweera warned yesterday.
He said a team had been appointed to investigate the prediction made recently by Prof. Athula Senaratne of the Geological Department of the Peradeniya University stating that the Indonesian region would experience a series of earthquakes from April 10 to April 18.
“People must not create a false alarm especially during a time like the New Year. As this prediction was highlighted especially in the vernacular media, people in the southern coastal regions were in a state of panic. Most of those who came to the South for the New Year vacation did not get the chance to enjoy it,” he said.
Mr. Amaraweera said President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his family and several ministers and MPs were in the south during the New Year vacation and this prediction had caused grave concern.
“An astrologer who had made the same prediction later denied making such a statement. The ministry’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC) functions on a 24-hour basis to warn the public of any tsunami,” he said.
The Disaster Management Centre’s Assistant Director Pradeep Kodipilli said the DMC units in the southern coastal areas had to take special measures to assure the people that there was no threat.“If there is a threat our centres functioning throughout the day will send warnings and vacate residents within one hour,” he said.
Colombo’s DIG Anura Senanayake said the police had powers to arrest any individual causing panic among the people. Some of the residents in Matara, Galle, Kalutara, Negombo, Trincomalee and Batticaloa continued to stay away from their homes yesterday fearing a tsunami.