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Exodus to safer places

By Our Special Correspondent

RAJAHMUNDRY, DEC. 26. At least 11 persons were injured and six were reported missing as tidal waves struck the East Godavari coast on Sunday.

``The injured are being treated at the Kakinada General Hospital. These are mostly cases of injuries to fishermen when their boats crashed under the impact of the waves,'' the District Collector, K.S. Jawahar Reddy, told The Hindu .

He said four to six people were reported missing from Uppada near Kakinada and "we are verifying reports of some survivors found at Bhairavapalem," the Collector said. ``We have no confirmation of any deaths in the district so far,'' Mr. Reddy said.

With panic spreading all along the coastal belt, the district administration has arranged for buses and special camps for evacuating people. People were seen heading for safer places like Amalapuram on their own from the coast.

Assessment today

The Collector said saving lives was the immediate priority and that enumeration of the damage caused to property would be done on Monday.

Quickly responding to reports of fishermen missing at sea, the district administration requisitioned the services of the Coast Guard. "The Coast Guard is undertaking sorties by a helicopter for rescuing fishermen stranded at sea,'' he said.

Reports indicated that most of the villages along the seashore have been affected by the tidal waves, with the intensity of the calamity varying from place to place, particularly in the Konaseema region where the tributaries of the Godavari meet the Bay of Bengal. Eyewitnesses in the coastal villages reported a series of tidal waves `some rising to a height of five to eight metres.'

Fleeting tremors

An ambulance of the ONGC, which was pressed into emergency service, was swept away by a tidal wave at Odarevu coast. Its three occupants, who had got down to inspect two onshore wells, ran to safety. There were no reports of any damage to offshore drilling installations of the ONGC. In Rajahmundry, people scurried out of their homes as tremors momentarily ripped across some parts of the city. The tremors were largely reported by people living in apartment complexes in areas like Chaitanyanagar, the Paper Mill area and the ONGC residential quarters. A resident of the ONGC quarters, Bipin Prasad Singh, "The tremors were for a fleeting period.''

No casualties

The Collector late on Sunday evening said that no deaths were reported in the district. Two sorties were conducted by the Coast Guard and one more would be undertaken on Monday to locate any missing fishermen at sea. As many as 100 boats and 500 huts were reported damaged during the initial assessment made by the district administration. Nearly 725 families have been rehabilitated in various camps.

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