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More relief sent to Andamans

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 3. A week after tsunami — the earthquake-triggered tidal waves — struck the coastal States in the south, the Centre has continued to pump in more relief material today in the worst-hit Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The Centre maintained that at least two inhabited islands in the Andaman and Nicobar region would require ``more or less reconstruction'' to a large extent.

At a joint briefing, the Chief of the Integrated Defence Services (IDS), Vice-Admiral Raman Puri, said the Pilmillow Island in South Nicobar had more or less submerged and survivors located at the island had been shifted to safer places at Campbell Bay.

Vice-Admiral Puri said that 65 per cent of Chowra, another island, had submerged. Thirtynine deaths were reported from this area while thirtysix persons were missing. The 100-foot lighthouse at ``Indira Point'', the southernmost tip of the country, continued to be under water and it was confirmed that the entire staff of the lighthouse had been washed away.

``Operation Seawave'', the relief work launched by the Navy, had set up a relief camp in Great Nicobar where people from the island and other neighbouring small islands were being moved into. ``Efforts are now on to put more ships in service for the relief operations as they can carry greater loads and supplies,'' he said.

Navin Chawla, Information and Broadcasting Secretary, who is also a member of the Group of Secretaries looking into the relief measures, said that, on an average, about 350 tonnes of relief material was being sent to tsunami-affected areas. So far, about 1,000 tonnes of relief material had been despatched and 388 tonnes more was being airlifted or shipped.

Central team for Tamil Nadu, Kerala

The Central team, headed by A.K. Rastogi, Secretary in the Disaster Management Division of the Home Ministry, is leaving tomorrow for Tamil Nadu and Kerala to assess the situation.

The official death toll in the tsunami tragedy has climbed to 9,479, with Tamil Nadu accounting for 7,814 deaths, Kerala 166, Andhra Pradesh 106, Pondicherry 575 and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands 818. As many as 5,681 persons are still untraced or missing. Mr. Chawla said that rescue operations for the missing or feared killed persons had not been called off, citing an example of three Doordarshan employees being found alive on Sunday after a week when their SOS reached Car Nicobar.

The Government would set up desalination plants in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Home Ministry had already consulted the Confederation of Indian Industry and the view was that advanced technology would help set up at least four mini-plants in the islands.

The Government expressed gratitude for the tremendous response from the public, NGOs and other agencies and encouraged people to extend a helping hand to the tsunami victims.

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