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Nicobar island still inaccessible

Sheela Bhatt in Port Blair | December 28, 2004 17:12 IST

On the third day after the tsunami hit the Andamans, Nicobar island is still inaccessible.

Telecommunication links are down and there are no ships ferrying between Andaman and Nicobar islands.

It takes 12 hours to traverse the distance between the two islands by sea. Only defence services aircraft fly over the region managing the rescue work.

Teressa and Chowra  islands near Nicobar were submerged, but there are no confirmed reports about the status of these two islands.

Only 20 people have arrived so far from the devastated island of Nicobar to Port Blair, which has a population of around 18000.

Some 9 doctors arrived from Chennai and Kolkata, but they were unable to fly to Nicobar.

The first ship from Nicobar carrying stranded people is expected on Tuesday.

Those who arrived in Port Blair say Nicobaris have left the coastal area, which is low-lying, and have moved into the jungles.

Even the defence employees' families, policemen and medical staff have moved to safer areas in the central parts of the island.

Dr Anwar Musa, a tribal doctor, has also moved into the jungle living his medical centre behind.

Reports of unattended dead bodies are coming also in.

A few people have been rescued and taken to Kolkata.

Most parts of Nicobar are still out of bounds and rescue operations are moving at a slow pace.

However, on Andaman island and in Port Blair life is slowly getting back to normal.

The shaken populace is in a state of anxiety and has constantly been looking out for tidal waves.

Says Dr Ashok Subrahmaniam, an ENT surgeon, "We are now very alert. People are keeping a watch on the tides. We have also set up a system to alert neighbours if the water level rises."

His wife Dr Malarrizhi Ashok says, "I am completely shaken. I feel giddy all the time. It's difficult to keep the mind in balance. The aftershocks are also making us more tense."

Janghlighat Urban Health Centre, which is managed by Dr Malarrizhi, has been damaged by tides.

She says: "My home was flooded. Sea snakes and fishes were lying all around. It was scary."

Port Blair did not witness many deaths, but families were upset by the extent of damage in the low lying area.

Sudip Kumar, local resident says, "The government machinery is busy evacuating tourists, they are not attending to local problems."

Where were you when the tsunami struck? Tell us.

Tsunami Strikes: The Complete Coverage

More reports from Andaman and Nicobar

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