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Deathly hush hangs over Port Blair

Sunil Mukhopadhyay in Port Blair | December 27, 2004 21:29 IST

A deathly hush hangs over Port Blair, the picturesque tourist destination and capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The region was ravaged on Sunday by tsunami waves that claimed over 3,000 lives.

Though the loss of life and damage to property in Port Blair is not as heavy as in Car Nicobar and the Nan Cowrie group of islands, tourists, who were enjoying their winter holidays in the town, are trying to make a quick exit. Even those who have been in the town for just a couple of days are leaving.

The administration has made arrangements to operate seven flights on Monday from Kolkata and Chennai to evacuate the stranded tourists, Andaman and Nicobar Inspector General of Police S B Deol told PTI.

Flights arriving in Port Blair are ferrying only relief materials, rescue teams and media persons, Indian Airlines sources said.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the catastrophe, the town has been experiencing a shortage of water, electricity and milk. And since Sunday almost all shops have remained closed.

A large number of anxious people gathered at the state police headquarters to enquire about their near and dear ones living in the various affected islands.

"We are trying to help them, but there are no means of communication in many islands, including Car Nicobar, where police radio communication systems have been washed away," Deol said.

The fire brigade at Nicobar Island has become non-existent. Ten personnel of the brigade lost their lives in the catastrophe, Deol said.

Government buildings close to the sea suffered extensive damages. Water transport, the main means of commutation between the islands, was also severely hit, as jetties were damaged.

"It will take a long time to get them repaired," a government official said.

"We are getting help from the navy and the coast guard. We are trying to ascertain the damages and the number of dead and missing people," the official said.

Another matter concerning the administration is the establishment of communication with the Nan Cowrie group of islands.

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