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Life in Malacca limping back to normal

Sunil Mukhopadhyay in Malacca | January 03, 2005 14:05 IST

A week after the tsunami wreaked havoc in Malacca in Car Nicobar islands, one of the worst-hit by the killer waves, life in the tiny village of mostly tribal Nicobarese, is limping back to normal.

In the temporary resettlement camps along the serpentine road leading to the devastated Malacca village, tribals seemed busy with the daily chores. A group was seen taking bath at the well, while some were carrying water and coconuts.

However, a few are yet to overcome the trauma caused by the tsunami.

Meanwhile, the IL-76 and AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force made sorties in the region as part of 'Operation Madad' launched by the armed forces to help affected people.

While relief materials have started trickling in, some felt it was inadequate. Sectius, a resident of Petra village adjacent to Malacca, said he had got some food but it was not enough. "My family still lives in jungles and survives on local potatoes. Water is still scarce," he said.

Herbertson, a resident of Malacca, who now lives in a temporary settlement, said he and others living in the settlement needed more water, ration and clothes.

Lt Gen B S Thakur, the operational head of the Integrated Relief Command, admitting that such complaints could be valid, said, "One has to understand the magnitude of the problem and the logistics constraint in the islands."

"We are not claiming that we are reaching out to each and every person, but a large number of them have got relief," he said. He said the armed forces' priority still was to provide succour to the affected.

The armed forces have been able to restore water supply and road traffic in the tsunami-hit villages in Car Nicobar.

Brigadier J M Devadoss, overseeing the relief operations, said some people now wanted to bring back their families from the relief camp in Port Blair. This showed that their morale was rising, he said.

Despite the harrowing experience, most Nicobarese said they did not want to leave the island. "Come what may, we are going to live here," Wellington, who lost his pregnant wife and father, said.

While relief and rehabilitation operations have helped Petra and its surroundings to get back on track, there are still other villages that are still in ruins.

Army personnel were still trying to find bodies from under the debris. There was also the occasional sound of the bursting liquefied petroleum gas cylinders trapped beneath the brick and mortar.


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