M A I N   N E W S

Moderate quake in West Nicobar

New Delhi, January 2
An earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale tonight shook the West Coast of Great Nicobar Island just four hours after one which hit the coast this evening.

The quake occurred at the latitude of 6.5 degree in north and longitude of 91.9 degree east, the Indian Meterological Department said and described it as a moderate one.

The quake hit the coast at 10 pm and the casualties if any were not known immediately.

A moderate earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale had hit the island at 6.43 pm.

Earlier, three earthquakes of moderate intensity occurred in the islands in the wee hours today.

According to department, the first quake measuring 5 on the Richter scale shook the east Car Nicobar region at 03:53 hours. Its epicentre was at 9 degrees north latitude and 94 degrees east longitude.

A second quake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale rocked the west coast of Camorta in Nicobar island at 03:58 hours with its epicentre at 8 degrees north longitude and 92 degrees east longitude.

The third quake measuring 5 on the Richter scale occurred at 04:42 hours in the Great Nicobar region, the meterological department said adding that the quake had its epicentre at 06.6 degrees north and 92.1 degrees east longitude. — PTI


Panic wanes in  Car Nicobar
Sridhar K Chari writes from Car Nicobar

Standing in bright sunshine on just a few inches of shore between the waters and the utterly devastated buildings of the Indian Air Force base at Car Nicobar, exactly one week after the tsunami tragedy, is eerie and frightening. The waves seem to come at you menacingly — the waters have not yet receded, and there is nowhere to run. Twenty to 25 tremors still rock the place, according to the Brigade commander there.

And there was nowhere to run for the officers and men of the IAF, and their families, who perished on that Sunday morning on December 26. The remnants of the buildings, with huge chunks of wall and roof blasted by the force of the waves, belie the sheer beauty of the place. When the waves came, they fractured skulls, and shattered spines and thigh bones. The smell of death is unmistakable, and when the wind shifts, you can smell it on the airstrip a couple of kilometers inland.

The highest point on this flat island is just 12 metres above sea level. At Malacca village, just a few kilometers away, the devastation is similar, as is the smell. Of the 15 villages in Car Nicobar, only four were unaffected by the tsunami, and even they took quake damage.

Large sections of the road were washed out, including the one leading to the jetty at Mus. The damaged Mus jetty has been repaired, and the Army has prepared a make-shift road in quick time, after repairing a disused bulldozer, notes Brig J.M. Devadoss, Relief Operations Commander at the base. Smaller craft like the LCUs (landing craft unit) of the Navy can now dock there, and supplies distributed through the road.

People from the affected villages, Malacca, Kimos, Kakana, Orchong, Arong and Chuckchua have been put in eponymously named camps along the surviving inland road, and appear cheerful and reasonably healthy. No cases of epidemic diseases have been reported. Food and water is being supplied. All severely injured with skull, thighbone and spinal fractures, were treated under the supervision of Surgeon Lt. Cdr Samir Kapoor, Port Blair. “People are now getting a little used to the tremors, and there is no panic.

Earlier, people used to run out of the hospital. One guy who was being treated like that ran out, and died of shock. But panic is now abating,” said Brigadier Devadoss.

Air Traffic Control (ATC) is operating in a tent, with just one satellite phone. Two IAF IL-78 transport aircraft landed today from mainland, unloading huge supplies, and the relief officials are hopeful of quickly distributing them with the improved logistical situation both in Car Nicobar and the islands further south like Great Nicobar. Civil BSNL connectivity has been restored.

The island has always been prone to malaria, but repeated inoculations for all are preempting breakouts.


Relief efforts improve in Campbell Bay
Sridhar K Chari in Great Nicobar

Port Blair, January 2
While several areas south of Campbell Bay in the Great Nicobar island continue to be inundated and marooned, relief efforts have now reached them, and over 210 persons were today evacuated using one Sea King and several Chetak helicopters operating off Naval ships.

Integrated Relief Command (IRC) operational head and C-in-C of A & N Command, Lt-Gen Thakur, said that food and other supplies were also being reached. “Earlier reports had indicated that 700 to 800 persons were stranded on high ground there from the Gandhinagar area, but there are some 400 there now. Efforts will continue tomorrow, and those wanting to be evacuated will be taken out from there.”

A branch of the State Bank of India, severely affected, has now restarted functioning.

Other areas like Shastrinagar, Vijaynagar etc were also being “looked after,” he said.

KATCHAL ISLAND: An Army officer dispatched to the Katchal island, also thought to be severely affected and posing access problems, had returned with good tidings. “There is no panic there, and no evacuation is required,” the officer stated. “Vehicles have been moved in, and there are some requirements like baby food, which will soon be supplied,” General Thakur said.

Even in Port Blair city, the water supply situation has improved today, with the pipelines having been restored. Several bank branches have also restarted functioning.

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