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Monday, Dec 27, 2004

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Extent of damage in Andaman islands not known

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, DEC. 26. Though a full picture of the devastation of the Andaman and Nicobar islands is yet to emerge, there has been extensive damage in most of the southern islands, Defence Ministry officials in Chennai and Bangalore said.

Car Nicobar island, which is nearest to Sumatra, bore the brunt of the earthquake and the consequent tsunami that it generated, cutting it off completely from the rest of the archipelago and the mainland.

The air force base on the island has suffered "a great deal of damage." The runway in the base on the island also suffered extensive damage, the sources added. Rescue efforts were on from Port Blair, the officials added.

The Indian Air Force managed to land two AN-32s at Port Blair late this evening, while a naval reconnaissance aircraft, a Tupolov 142 M, from the Arakkonam naval base, INS Rajali, completed one sortie of the islands.

But as it was nearing nightfall by the time the aircraft reached the islands, one more sortie will be carried out tomorrow to assess the extent of damage, the INS Rajali Commanding Officer, Sanjeev Ghei, said.

For now, the Tu 142 M crew had spoken to the Air Traffic Controls on the islands and has arrived at a preliminary assessment of the nature of damages on the islands.

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