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PM assures all central help

December 26, 2004 19:28 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday assured all help to the states and Union territories affected by the tsunamis triggered by the massive earthquake near the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

More than 1,800 people were killed along the eastern coast of the country when the tsunamis slammed home.

"I have spoken to the chief ministers of the affected states to assure them of all possible central support and assistance in the relief and rehabilitation effort," the PM said while expressing "deepest sorrow" at the devastation caused in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Kerala and Pondicherry.

Singh said Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi met members of the Disaster Management Group and "he and his colleagues are coordinating all the efforts that need to be put in to meet with the tragedy".

He said he had asked Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Shivraj Patil to provide relief to the victims.

The armed forces and the central paramilitary forces, which had been alerted, were involved in rescue and relief operations, Singh said.

The PM observed that all government departments w
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ere on alert, and said he had deputed two of his Cabinet colleagues, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Dayanidhi Maran, to survey the affected regions and coordinate the relief efforts.

The home minister, he said, was also going to visit the affected areas.

"At this juncture, I would appeal to all citizens in the affected coastal districts to remain calm and to assist wherever possible in the provision of relief.

"There is no cause, whatsoever, for alarm as the situation is being monitored very closely," he said.

Noting that several other countries in the neighbourhood -- Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand -- had also suffered, Singh said he had written to their heads of state or government and offered assistance to tide over the crisis.

"I have sent messages of sympathy to the presidents of the Maldives, Indonesia and Sri Lanka as well as the prime minister of Thailand, where reports of heavy damage are coming in," he said, adding, "India stands ready to assist these friendly nations, should our help be required."

Note: The toll mentioned in the report is likely to change as the situation develops.

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