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Home > News > Tsunami Strikes > PTI > Report

A week after, nightmares haunt victims

January 02, 2005 15:37 IST

Traumatised by the tsunami, which devastated the southern coastline of the country, including this district, peoplein Nagapattinamare refusing to go back to their villages even a week after the tragedy.

Over 85,000 people have been accommodated in the 98 relief camps, set up by the administration along the 200 km
long coastal belt in the district and most of them are housed in schools, closed for Christmas vacations.

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With the schools scheduled to reopen soon, the administration has to find an alternative place to accommodate this huge number of people.

One alternative is to house these people in cyclone relief centres but they refuse to leave as these centres are located along the coast, fearing another Tsunami strike.

"We had seen natural calamities in the past like cyclones and torrential rains. But for the first time, we are experiencing tsunamis. We have seen tidal waves in 1964, but then it did not affect us. It had wiped off Danushkodi from the map then," Rengarajan, a 70-year-old farmer said.

Even though the district was limping back to normal, it would take some time for the residents to undertake their day-to-day activities.

The district's economy has been ruined by the tsunami. Farmers and fishermen, who account for 80 per cent of over 14 lakh population, have been affected.

Beach sand has entered into over two lakh acres of arable land and it would be an uphill task for the administration to bring them under cultivation for at least another two years.

The farmers were expecting a bounty this year after a gap of three years, but their hopes were dashed with torrential rains damaging standing paddy crop in November last in some parts of the district.

The havoc wrought by the waves have now compounded the problem. Damage to crops and cattle are yet to be assessed.

A detailed survey would be undertaken only after officials completed immediate relief works.

Material and funds for relief works were pouring in and were in plenty. The district administration had started distributing the assistance announced by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the work would be completed in another two days, officials said.

If the victims in the relief camps wanted to go back to their places, officials would take all efforts to enable them to do so, but would not compel them to leave the camps, officials said adding that as long as the inmates wanted, the camps would continue.

The district, which bore the brunt of the tsunami, has reported more then 6,000 deaths, with 100 bodies being recovered from the debris in the last two days.

District collector Veerashanmuga Moni said the figure was unlikely to go up as the administration had completed clearing debris and started levelling the earth. More than 500 earth levelling equipment were involved in the operations, he said, commending the army's services in this regard.

In most places, the army had to recover the bodies and organise mass burials or cremation. In most cases, entire
families were wiped out and no survivors were reported.

© Copyright 2005 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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