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Buzz of relief in worst-hit Nagapattinam

By Ganesh Nadar in Nagapattinam
Last updated on: January 12, 2005 21:09 IST
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Nagapattinam, one of the areas in Tamil Nadu badly hit by the tsunami waves, lies north from Christian pilgrimage centre Velankanni.

Nagapattinam lies at the mouth of a river.

The 4-kilometre stretch in the region extending from a lighthouse at one end to the Mariamman temple at the other end saw some 2,600 deaths.

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Boats, which are the main sources of people living here, had been smashed against each other. One boat was found atop a house.

Army engineers have been helping the locals to repair the motors of the boats.

The engineers had on Tuesday taken some fishermen out to sea to restore their confidence.

The collector accompanied them in the boat.

The army has been playing a vital role in the rehabilitation efforts. It has sent a brigadier here to oversee the operations.

The army had brought a water purifier from Jodhpur.

The contraption can purify 3000 litres of water in an hour.

The collector had ordered a pump to be installed in a big public well here.

The water purifier was stationed near the well.

Meanwhile, debris is still being removed. The people found one body on Wednesday and the other in Cook's road; and more are feared buried under the debris, people say.

After the tsunami another mishap occurred. A gas cylinder exploded and some houses burnt down.

The Tamil Nadu Electricity Board is doing yeoman service to the villagers.

They have been erecting poles at an amazing speed. And, the assistant divisional engineer has promised to get the power supply going at 3pm on Wednesday.

A team of officials lead by Tanjore collector J Radhakrishnan was building the infrastructure.

Another team led by the sub-collector was distributing relief.

NGOs from Ramanad, Erode and Salem, all in Tamil Nadu, are working in the area.

Art of Living members have also set up shop and are distributing food and clean water.

J Mascarenhas, a doctor from Kodaikanal, who is working in the area has complained to the local DSP that cops were stopping his van from entering.

The DSP promptly issued him a pass.

Member of Parliament T T V Dinakaran visited the area to see if relief work was being conducted smoothly.

The chairperson of the Wakf board, Bader Sayeed, also visited the place. She walked the entire stretch to see how the board could help the victims.

Outside Mariamman temple, people were seen waiting for relief.

Elsewhere, the scenes are tellingÂ… of a land slowly recovering from a tragedy. An old woman is seen cleaning up her house with a spade, her grandchild helping her with a broom.

Some still wear a shocked look on their faces.

The media is everywhere. The BBC was broadcasting live from the beach some.

Mounds of debris burn along the beach.

The dead are being burnt for the fear that since the area lies at the mouth of a river the sea water could rush in and drag the corpses into the sea.

This area looks devastated.

Everything is in ruins. To get the infrastructure back will take six months.

To heal the scars wrought by the thousands of deaths might be impossible.


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