RESIDENTS fled their homes after authorities in southern India advised coastal areas to evacuate today, warning there could be fresh tsunamis.
The alert was issued following information that several aftershocks in the region had pushed up the water level, said an official at the emergency control room set up by India's Home Ministry in New Delhi.
The warning came as the death toll looked set to top 100,000 today.
An estimated 5.7 magnitude underwater earthquake was recorded by the Hong Kong observatory at 5.18am (9.18pm GMT Wednesday), north-west of Sumatra, Indonesia. Other quakes were felt in Thailand and Burma.
"We have issued an alert. There could be a wave attack in the next hour," said Veera Shanmuga Mani, administrator in Nagappattinam, a coastal town in southern Tamil Nadu state where most of the deaths from the weekend tsunamis occurred.
Mani said people living within two miles of the coastline had been asked to evacuate the area.
Thousands of residents in Nagappattinam began fleeing the town as the warning came in. Police ordered hundreds of vehicles carrying relief supplies and rescue workers not to enter the town.
Similar warnings were issued for southern Kerala state and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Officials feared the number of British victims could rise steeply.
Britons responded to pleas from aid agencies by giving £5m in less than 24 hours to try to ease the suffering of countries battered by the tsunami.
At least 50 Britons are feared dead.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the total number of dead could reach 100,000, while the World Health Organisation warned that diseases could double the number killed by the waves.
Thai authorities said 43 Britons were killed when the deadly waves surged through the nation's busy southern tourist resorts on Sunday.
Embassy officials in Phuket admitted the total could still rise steeply in the coming days as the large number of bodies of Westerners were identified.
As coastline searches continued throughout the region, thousands more bodies were discovered.
Entire towns in Indonesia near the epicentre of the earthquake which triggered the tsunamis were wiped out with huge loss of life.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw defended the Government's response to the crisis as the Department for International Development announced a further £15m in aid.
He also said Prime Minister Tony Blair was right to carry on with his Christmas holiday in Egypt.
Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would make a "substantial" donation to the relief effort.
The money would probably be given to agencies of which the Queen is patron, the Palace said.
The Association of British Travel Agents reported that hope should not be abandoned for the 100 or so package holidaymakers still unaccounted for.
Some had somehow got to Bangkok and taken scheduled flights home without contacting their tour operator.
All holiday flights to Sri Lankan and Thai coastal resorts have been cancelled for the time being, but tours to the Maldives and to the non-coastal areas of Sri Lanka and Thailand are continuing.