M A I N   N E W S

100 aftershocks in Andamans
Over 9,000 dead in Katchal alone
Sridhar K. Chari Writes from Port Blair

THE number of aftershocks in the region of the Andaman and Nicobar islands following the megaquake of December 26 has staggeringly crossed the triple-figure mark today, notwithstanding the claims made by local officials and indeed the Science and Technology Ministry that the aftershocks were abating.

While data with the Indian Meteorological Department in its Meteorological Office in Shadiapur, Port Blair, showed 54 aftershocks till the morning of December 29, similar data collected by the Command Meteorological Office from that point onwards, show another 42 till yesterday, taking the total number to 96. With more tremors occurring today, the century mark has been crossed.

KATCHAL TRAGEDY: So how many people have died on the island of Katchal? Naval sources stated today that while the 2001 Census figure shows a population of 5312 the village ‘captains’ met by naval officers supporting relief there indicated to them a population of 12,000. The administration estimates a population of 8512, which presumably includes new settlers and other workers and officials. “The village ‘captains’ are very disciplined and exact people. During evacuation from one island, they gave us a detailed list of names of the people to be evacuated. The village heads are more likely than not to be correct,” said a senior naval officer.

With estimates of those missing and likely dead on the devastated island being put at 75 percent, 9000 may have died in Katchal alone. “I think the total number dead in the islands is between 12,000 and 15,000,” he stated.

Relief efforts for those surviving on the island are proceeding apace, and adequate supplies are said to have reached them.

INS MAGAR: The INS Magar, led by its Commanding Officer, Commander Deepak Dhar, one of the large landing ship tank (LST) ships with the Indian Navy, can take credit for being responsible for one of the most dramatic evacuations in Operation Madad, the relief effort going on in the isles.

It is the INS Magar which evacuated 1,283 persons from the devastated island of Chowra and put them into the neighbouring Teressa island. It reached Port Blair today, and will sail out south again.

The Magar, using its onboard Sea King chopper, spotted the stranded people of Chowra, and on January 1, 470 persons were taken on board using the landing craft assault (LCA) ships carried on board. They were deposited on Teressa and in the subsequent days, the remaining were taken on board. Many of the transfer sessions from the LCAs and the rubber craft to the ship was done with the seas pitching wildly and in rain. The second day’s evacuation was done in pouring rain.

Survivors in Chowra had vivid tales of waves rising above the coconut trees. Three tsunami waves came on to the island, as on Katchal, devastating all buildings near the shore. Videos taken by the crew show school benches hanging on trees.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |