Tsunami Help Home   Enquiry   Missing Persons   News Updates   Help Needed   Help Offered  

Tuesday 28 December 2004

Andaman and Nicobar - most affected

Rediff says:
Tropical paradise islands are the worst affected
The current loss of lives in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands currently stands at 3,000 and rising (it might well go up to 4,000).
[...]
When we say 3,000 people in the A&N Islands, it amounts to around 9% of the islands' population.
[...]
On a proportionate basis, the loss of lives in the islands must surely rank as one of the worst disasters ever in India, perhaps in the world.
[thank you for the link, Kartik Talamadupula]
3 Comments Post a Comment
Blogger Gobind Srivatsa said :

News from the Andaman & Nicobar islands
We have been in Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands until yesterday (28th December, 2004). The actual situation in Port Blair is mostly exaggerated by most reporters.

The town of Port Blair which has a population of 1.25 lakh people on official records actually has a population of over 3 - 4 lakhs but fortunately, there has been very negligable life loss in Port Blair (considering the plight some of the other islands). There has been quite a bit of loss in property and all the docks & wharfs are affected with some of them being rendered unuseable like Fisheries jetty (which is still being used inspite of structural damage and a portion of the jetty sinking in the water in front of our eyes) & Junglighat jetty which has totally collapsed. Other jetties like Haddow & Chattam have suffered some damages but seem to be in a much better condition and can be (realistically) be restored in original form (or even better & safer) within a year or so.

On the eventful morning of 26 December, 2004 my wife & i were on the jetty . i boarded the ferry to Havelock island (where i manage a luxury resort) while my wife saw me off from the jetty. Just as our boat left the jetty at 6:25 am, we felt sudden turbulance on the sea which i felt was unusual as the jetty is well within the harbour. Then we saw a few electric posts falling and then a portion of the jetty sinking. We had no idea what was happening until the captain of the vessel (who was extremely kind & helpful) informed us a few minutes that Port Blair had been hit by an earthquake. Even then i did not realise that at that very time, my wife was still at the jetty seeing me off and saying goodbye to me when the quake hit. As luck would have it, even my friend who was at the jetty had left a few minutes before that & she was all alone on the jetty. To her shock & horror, the jetty right next to the one she was on (by god's grace not the one she was on) collapsed and the jetty she was on, started shaking as she started running and the jetty started cracking right in front of her. She jumped accross the crack and then a seaman who was about 50 meters away called out asking her to sit down which she did. Once the initial jolt was over, she ran over to our bike (which we had just purchased just a few day ago) on which another bike & a scooter had fallen. She was extremely courageous and even as people were asking her to leave the bike and run for her life, she moved the bike & the scooter (which was found crushed, 500 meters away after the tsunami struck) and got our bike out & made it safely back home.

We stay in a beautiful concrete house (with really wonderful & courageous neighbours who are like family to us) hardly 10 meters away from the sea on slightly (5 feet) elevated ground. My wife came back and told our neighbours who immideatly helped her calm down and two of the men went with a child on a scooter to see the damage. As they parked at the jetty and saw the debris of the broken jetty, they noticed the sudden drop in sea level and then the rise (the tsunami) and did not have a place to run. Luckily, they found a boat docked just there and jumped on to it. The Captain of the vessel, who also noticed the turbulance in the sea, immideatley cut the ropes and set sail (which saved over 100 people who were onboard this vessel). Meanwhile, our families, including my wife also saw the strange behaviour of the sea and quickly rushed to higher ground. The ship on which our neighbours (Kishan, Nitin, Baba the brave little boy & Aziz who issues the tickets on the boat) cruised around in the open sea and the Captain asked the crew to make some food for the passengers with all the ration they had for the crew as there was no canteen on board this vessel. The passengers, amid their fears had a wholesome meal of rice & dal (lentils) thanks to the Captain.

Unaware of what my wife, neighbours & millions of others had experienced, our boat neared Havelock when we recieved news that the jetty at Havelock was flooded (which has receded now) and the Captain announced that we were turning back. As soon as i could get coverage on my mibile phone, i called my wife and asked her to arrange cars for our resort's guests who were tarvelling with me on the boat. We headed back and were the first vessel to be given docking permission at the Chattam jetty (as we had the maximum-300 passengers, mostly tourists on board) where the Deputy Director Shipping (Veeriah-who is a good friend & an excellent man) was waiting to see us all disembark the vessel safely.

i checked with Veeriah and soon realised that the situation was much more grave than i had expected (as we have been through quite a few tremors in Port Blair) . i put my guests in cars which my wife had arranged & rushed home where i heard the entire episode. There was no power and our island's power house was submerged in water (which is expected to function within 6 months after a total overhauling). Entire Port Blair was out on the streets due to the earthquake warnings issued on radio which saved the lives of lakhs of people all over the islands. My wife spent the night on the road with our extremely loving neighbours and their brave children who took very good care of her while i went around town to assess the loss first hand.

First thing i realised was that Marina Park our favourite hang-out was destroyed and that fiber glass boats which were operated by a person (Prince) for tourists were strewn all over the roads. The walls had collapsed, the jetty there (Aberdeen jetty) had also collapsed and even the road was damaged in some areas. This is one of the only areas in Port Blair which faces the open sea and hence, the damage was more. However, thanks to one of the Lt. Governors who moved out the 10,000 + fishermen from that area to build the park (& was critizised by all of them when he did so) no one lives close to the shore on that belt and therfore no lives were lost there also.

On the other hand an entire area, Junglighat where there are quite a few houses at sea level was flooded and many of the houses were destroyed. Fortunately again, very few lives were lost as these areas are not exposed to the open sea and hence the fury of the tsunami was not felt although the water level rose rapidly. Then i went to the relief camps and noticed that they needed help to get food & water to the needy and joined the relief work. The Rotarians (especially Anil Goel & Mrs. & Mr. Rajesh Puria) were providing food in the government shelter. No one in Port Blair slept that entire night and everyone spent the night discussing the horrors on the roads, playgrounds and open spaces. As i moved aroud finding what help i could provide, we heard heartbreaking news coming from Srilanka, Indonesia & mainland India. That night as the Lt. Governor and Member of Parliament visited Car Nicobar on a helicopter and returned,. We then heard from them about the almost total wipe-out of the island which was confirmed (officially) only two days later. i shall put-up another seperate posting about Nicobar's plight. That day we also heard the good news that our resort (behind beach no. 7, Havelock island) was saved by the Forest that is between us & the beach.

The next morning i was at the airport and saw the exodus of tourists which also i shall put in a seperate posting. On the whole, our experience in Port Blair opened our eyes to the fact that we (humans) are nothing in front of Mother Nature and that it is only the trees that can save us from even such natural disasters. Most of the Andaman islands are safe and there is still hope in the minds of the people but there is the fear of impending doom which hangs on their heads. People of Port Blair have started returning to their homes and i am sure we have all learnt quite a few lessons from this shocking experience.

i must thank Mrs. & Mr. Kishan, Mrs. & Mr. Sonu (master), Mrs. & Mr. Aziz, Mrs. & Mr. Basheer, theirs parents, Sandeep, Amrita (Pinky), Mrs. & Mr. Nitin for all their support during this moment of truth. i would also like to appriciate the brave children Baba, Akhib, Sazia, Sahiba (the little 1-year who kept our minds off the tragedy with her extremely cute & innocent antics), Shilpa & Dinal who all braved through this entire episode in excellent cheer. It is only because of such good people that the world still goes around. May god keep them all safe and give them the courage to forget this nightmare.

Thu Dec 30, 02:11:00 PM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

Click Here To Enter

Fri Jan 14, 06:15:00 PM IST  
Anonymous Anonymous said :

I am living in PortBlair. The damages done by Media is much more than EarthQuake and Tsunami. Particularly SUN TV bluffed like anything. They told that 2000 people have died in the next day's EarthQuake i.e. on 27/12/2004, where not even a single person died on that day due to earthquake. I will give the details of the other bluffs of Media tomorrow.

Sat Jan 15, 09:52:00 PM IST