Last year, on the 26th December, an earthquake, and then a tsunami, killed, wounded, or impoverished hundreds of thousands of people in South Asia. The whole world was shocked by the horrible Tsunami, which eventually took thousands of life and the massive problems it caused to those who were affected.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, was an undersea earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) on December 26, 2004. The tsunami generated by the earthquake killed approximately 270,000 people, making it one of the deadliest disasters in modern history. The disaster is known as Asian Tsunami It is also known in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom as the Boxing Day Tsunami because it took place on Boxing Day, though it was still Christmas Day in the Western Hemisphere when the disaster struck.
In May 2005, scientists reported that the earthquake itself lasted close to ten minutes when most major earthquakes last no more than a few seconds; it caused the entire planet to vibrate at least a few centimeters. It also triggered earthquakes elsewhere, as far away as Alaska.
The rehabilitation work was already started in January of 2005 and still lots need to be done for those ill-fated people. All in all, the progress is commendable.
During the course of the year 2005, other disasters took their toll too. Most devastating of them being Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the South-East coast of the USA and another enormous earthquake near Pakistan’s border with India.
These disasters took their immediate toll, and, each time, the world tried to help. But as calamity piled upon calamity, there has been a certain amount of fatigue. Perhaps people’s stock of goodwill has run low. Perhaps seeing too much suffering hardens us.
Here is the fact file of the loss caused by Tsunami in India:
(Courtesy: The UN Office of the Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery )
Number of fatalities: 9,330. (Source: Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs Report, May 25, 2005.)
Number of people missing: 3,077. (Source: Situation Report, No.32-5/2004-NDM-Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs.)
Number of people displaced: 647,599. (Source: Situation Report, No.32-5/2004-NDM-Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs.)
IMPACT ON VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
• 75 percent of the fatalities were women and children.
• 787 women became widows and 480 children were orphaned. (Source for all figures: Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs Report, May 25, 2005).
DAMAGES AND LOSSES
• An estimated 1,089 villages were affected in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
• An estimated 157,393 houses were destroyed.
• Approximately 730,000 individuals were forced to leave their homes.
• 83,788 boats were damaged or destroyed.
• 31,755 livestock were lost.
• 39,035 hectares of cropped area was damaged. (Source for all figures: Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs Report, May 25, 2005.)
• Total estimated value of damages: $2.56 billion.
• Total estimated needs for long-term recovery: $2.1 billion.
I was also a part of this!
I was present in Chennai the day Tsunami stuck. We were a group of 400 youths from all over India, present there for the Yuva Milan of Jain KDO’s at The Golden Beach Resort.
Me and my cousin brother wanted to roam about in Chennai (* which we were not supposed to as per guidelines set for all of us.). Since he was a local boy, he brought his bike (a TVS Victor) there in the morning of 26th at around 6.00am. We all felt a mild quake below our feats and we thought an earth quake has been stuck. We had Yoga classed in the morning to attend which we, along with many others skipped. At around 8.00am, it was time for all of us get bathed. There was such a huge line outside the bathrooms that many felt to have a swim at the bay.
We thought other wise. Why don’t we move to Mahabalipuram, an 45mins drive from there. Just after the thought, we were on the bike to bank upon that we had 2 hrs for us to roam. We just went ahead faster and we reached Mahabs (*called by the people over there. Abbr for Mahabalipuram ) in ½ hour. We roamed there for a bit of time and decided to go back.
By around 9.20am, we hit the road again at max. speed while looking at the beautiful sea along the East Cost Road.
All of a sudden, I saw high waves. I was surprised. We were in a deserted area, and the sea was up-close. My brother said “Hey, see, the sea is coming on to the land.” And it really was. We got tensed, obviously as our resort was at the beach and shall there be a problem, we needed to be there. We moved on more faster.
On the way, I saw huts being trashed by the big waves. I began to shake with fear.
Seeing it for the first time, people being trashed by the sea. I was looking at them helplessly on the road which was at some distance now.
I told my brother, “Is there any emergency booth anywhere near”
He said “Oh Yes! We have it on every Kilometer” I told him to stop at the very next emergency booth.
We stopped at the emergency booth and pushed the red button which was marked “Push this button to speak to the Officer”. I was received by a stern voice on the other end. “Yes! How may I help you?”
I told “Hey, the sea is coming onto the shore and is trashing the huts and people are dying”
“Yes, the sea is coming to the shore, and people are being killed. These people need help”
“Who are you?”
“I am just passing by from Mahbs to my resort at GoldenBeach. Please hurry, these people really need help. I am moving on to my resort to check the situation over there.”
“Ok. I am sending some one there…”
We hit the road again. As two minutes passed, we saw a Police jeep coming from the other side, going towards the place we stopped. Within two minutes the help arrived! I was surprised. Its not normal in India to get help in Two minutes.
On our journey back to Golden Beach, we saw people running to get help. There were tractors, mini trucks ferrying people were plying on the roads. Obviously, taking them to safer locations.
I could see little kids crying. And all the adults doing the same thing as well. They already guessed the damage caused is terrible.
We are at our resort. Everything wasn’t normal as we had very well expected.
There was much noise all around by our organizers, trying to make sure that all of us 400 people are present and we hadn’t lost one.
The sea water did enter our resorts but very luckily it didn’t come in to the whole resort, and left its power at its shore.
We all arranged ourselves according to our groups (like people from Mumbai formed one group, people from Cochin made the other, like wise) so that we can cross check we have all our people together.
All of us were present expect from a lad from Jalgaon. Everybody was tensed though he was the only on missing, but the one missing was what we were tensed about.
Later we found out that he braved the Tsunami, just to film it on his camera. He stood at the stage built at beach (* Which was not affected at all by Tsunami), and filmed the entire drama on his camera. I failed to get in touch with him to have my hands on a copy of the same.
By 12:00 noon, we all started to get frantic calls from our parents to ensure that all of us are in good condition, and all were asked to leave the place at the same instance. Which was not possible as the whole travel system was chocked.
But the whole day, we prayed to the god not to repeat what we have seen. All were praying for their and all other’s safety.