Wed, Dec 29, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Quake's aftershocks rattle India's Andaman islands

AP , NAGAPPATTINAM, INDIA

Indian women grieve as unseen volunteers retrieve the dead body of a relative from a well in Nagapattinam district, 350km south of Madras, yesterday, after tidal waves hit the region.

PHOTO: AFP

A string of Indian islands were rattled yesterday by aftershocks following the massive quake on the weekend, while emergency aid was rushed to survivors of the tsunami waves that killed at least 4,300 people along the nation's southeastern coast.

In addition to the confirmed dead, another 3,000 people are feared to have been killed by Sunday's killer waves on the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which were shaken by seven aftershocks of 4.4 to 5.5 magnitude overnight.

"The death toll is estimated around 3,000 dead and another 3,000 missing in the islands," A.N. Basudev Rao, the deputy inspector-general of police in Port Blair said when contacted by telephone. "We have so far recovered only 200 bodies."

A statement by the Home Ministry in New Delhi said the confirmed death toll in India stood at 4,371 yesterday, including 3,618 in the worst-hit state of Tamil Nadu. The national toll would go up dramatically if the Andaman and Nicobar deaths are confirmed, most of which are believed to have occurred on Car Nicobar island.

The Andaman and Nicobar region is made up of more than 500 islands, but about 30 are inhabited. Located about 1,500km east of the Indian mainland, the islands were the site of a notorious penal colony used to imprison Indian independence leaders during British colonial times.

Rao said that all the inhabited islands were hit by Sunday's tsunamis.

"We have been unable to reach two of them with a population of up to 1,000 each because of rough sea," Rao said. The Hindustan Times newspaper reported yesterday that the missing included 200 air force personnel stationed there.

All the villages and the road along Car Nicobar's coast were washed away, the region's police chief S.B. Deol said in an interview with New Delhi Television network.

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