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Monday, Dec 27, 2004

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Control room at Indian embassy in Bangkok

By P.S. Suryanarayana

SINGAPORE, DEC. 26. There is no definitive word about the casualties, if any, among Indian tourists who are believed to have been on holiday at resorts in Thailand and Malaysia.

The Indian Embassy in Bangkok has set up a Control Room/Information Centre [telephone no.: (+66)-2-2604166], India's Charge d'Affaires in Bangkok, T.P. Seetharam, said.

The control room would monitor the situation besides rendering help to Indian nationals in distress.

Indian-origin Thai nationals in the Phuket area, when contacted, spoke of material damage besides indicating that there were no definitive cases of injuries or deaths among Indian tourists in the immediate wake of the disaster, Mr. Seetharam said.

India's Ambassador to Indonesia, H.K. Singh, told The Hindu over phone that Indian diplomats and local staff at the Consulate General at Medan in Sumatra "are all safe" and the mission's office and residential premises were intact.

However, with access to Aceh, already under martial law and now devastated by the quake and its fall-out, being difficult, an independent picture of the scene there was hard to get.

An Indian resident in central Sumatra, contacted over the telephone from Singapore, said there was apparently no impact of the quake in many other parts of the island.

The Indian Embassy in Bangkok is sending a consular officer to Phuket to ascertain the situation after the airport there, which was closed in the wake of the tidal surge, was reopened several hours later.

In Singapore, some residents spoke of feeling the tremors, while some others noted that earlier earthquakes in the region had produced similar or more intense tremors.

There were no signs of panic, though, on the streets and in establishments.

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