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Friday 31 December, 2004

SEEDS - Field Report From Andamans

Field Report from Andamans
SEEDS, Port Blair. 30 December 2004. 1700 hrs IST

The SEEDS field assessment team reached Tamil Nadu on 27 December. We realised that there are some credible NGOs extending aid there. Meanwhile the toll in Andaman and Nicobar was rising and no assistance had reached there due to logistics problems. As such, we moved to the Andamans on 28 December and started relief operations here.

Our update is below.

1. There was a tsunami scare a couple of hours ago, causing great panic. However, it turned out to be a false alarm.

2. We have established two relief camps in Port Blair where evacuees from three locations - Hutbay in Little Andaman, Campbell bay in Great Nicobar, and Car Nicobar Island are being given shelter. These relief camps are being run in Nirmala school and School Line, both in Port Blair, where we have more than 1100 people in the camps right now and more keep coming in. People in the relief camps are being provided shelter, food, toilets and basic cleanliness and sanitation services.

3. Most of these evacuees are coconut farmers or run piggeries back on their islands.

4. The mission running the Nirmala School is very efficient and is playing a good role in management of the camp. We have provided tents, toilets etc. here and are extending full support for other things. The second camp requires greater attention and input from us. Yuva Shakti, a local voluntary group has come forward to assist us, and 20 volunteers are working round the clock to improve and manage the camp.

5. We are put up tents, and are operating the kitchen, distributing food, organising local transport of material, and providing sanitation facilities. We need continued supply of basic provisions to carry this on, and need additional provisions like disposable plates etc. People need other specific things of basic necessity such as soap, towels, foot slippers, bedsheets, torches, and bags to keep their belongings in. These are not available locally and will need to be transported to Port Blair by air urgently.

6. There is an acute shortage of water as the pipe from the dam to the treatment plant has got damaged. Even hotels and restaurants in Port Blair are closed due to lack of water.

7. There is still no other NGO doing relief work in Andaman and Nicobar. Only the administration and some small local groups are working. They are grossly inadequate. Some NGOs have come for reconnaissance work. There are two more camps being run in Port Blair, both by the administration.

8. Nicobar area is worst hit. The people were washed out, and these being islands in the middle of the ocean, many bodies did not wash back ashore. From back calculations (by counting heads and assuming missing persons as dead), the rough estimates of casualties are about 15,000 in this group of islands alone.

9. There is damage in Port Blair in terms of infrastructure. The administration has now got busy with putting back things in place which have been damaged like communications, roads, airport and jetty.

10. The administration is still evacuating people from vulnerable areas and bringing them to Port Blair under fear of another tsunami.

11. Taking relief from the mainland is a difficult process. Moving to remote islands is virtually impossible. For the time being SEEDS will run the two relief camps for evacuees in Port Blair.

12. SEEDS has initiated its step towards taking up housing reconstruction work in the Islands. For this wehave started some data action. Map Action from U.K. is supporting us on mapping the islands on which we intend to start work. At noon today our team also had a coordination meeting with the District Collector for discussions on the further steps.

13. Mital, our colleague from our Gujarat office, has reached Port Blair to assist Manu and Rajesh in managing the relief camps.

14. Lakshmi, our logistics officer in the Delhi office, has rushed to Chennai to organise procurements and shipment of relief items. Sumati, a volunteer from ERM Delhi, is accompanying Lakshmi. In Chennai they will take assistance from local volunteers.

15. Many concerned persons are contacting us from India and abroad through our Delhi office to find out about their friends or family missing in the Andamans. We are going to put up the details of missing persons on a common board at a central location, and also get them aired on local radio. Any information required for any missing person in Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be mailed to us at info@seedsindia.org with details and photograph of the person and his/ her last whereabouts known.

Current indications of needs are as follows:

Short Term

􀂃 Drinking Water
􀂃 Soap and toiletteries
􀂃 Towels
􀂃 Bedsheets
􀂃 Torches and batteries
􀂃 Foot slippers
􀂃 Expandable bags

Mid Term

􀂃 Tents
􀂃 Beddings
􀂃 Utensils

Long Term

􀂃 Housing
􀂃 Livelihood re-establishment
􀂃 Community facilities
􀂃 Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness programmes

It is expected that the relief camps will be operational for about two weeks. After that the phase of reconstruction of houses and community facilities will start.

Further Information:
Email: info@seedsindia.org Tel: (91-11) 26498371 Fax: (91-11) 26498372
24 hour Control Room: (91-11) 30994155, Cellphone: Lakshmi (91) 9810596614
Website: http://www.seedsindia.org/

Mode of Donation:
Bank Transfer to Account Name: SEEDS
Account Number: 52810165100
Bank: Standard Chartered Bank, M-1, South Extension Part-II, New Delhi, INDIA
Crossed cheque or bank draft in the name of `SEEDS’
Send to SEEDS, D-6, Panchsheel Enclave, New Delhi - 110017

Do let us know the amount, mode and date of your donation, so that we can track it and make sure it reaches us fast. Also mail us your full contact details. We need it for our records, and it will also enable us to update you later.
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