Arriving in Tamil Nadu

2004-12-30
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Indian officials accounce another tsunami is headed for Tamil Nadu, creating chaos in the region. Relief workers and residents flee the region. In keeping with its policy of rejecting international aid, the Indian government says it can cope adequately with the aftermath of the tidal wave

Maleshvaram, Tamil Nadu, India — ; Now I am about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the coast, I've been traveling by car since this 5 a.m. in the morning and right now it's 12 midnight. It's a very long journey.

Limited Aid Getting Through; Earthquake Scares

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I've been travelling more than a 800 kilometers (480 miles) and on the way there are some people who are collecting donations for earthquake affected people. I saw many vehicles bringing relief supplies - clothing, food - for the fishermen. Some of the fishermen who came in this area where I am staying now say government supplies are not getting to the people.

We are not allowed to go to the seashore, the place called Nagappattinam. They are telling us we can't go because there is disease in the area. The other thing is the government has announced one more flood is going to happen. Outsiders aren't allowed to go in; nobody is allowed to go inside that place. Those who come to give donations for the people affected by earthquake are not allowed to go inside that place.

People tell me that the government says there will be another quake at 3 a.m. tomorrow (Dec. 31). I heard this from seashore people and local people and some others, they heard the same thing: they heard one more earthquake will happen tomorrow at 3 a.m. or 1st of January.

Seashore Residents Flee Disaster Area

They (the people) have not been taught to stand up for themselves so they just wait for government help.

Right at the moment they (refugees) are sleeping near the bus stop and some of them are looked after by the police. One of the fishermen I talked to says nearly 3,000 people came with him. Most of them who are here have not lost their families in the flood, but one woman did say she had lost her daughter. They flee from the seashore and sheltering nearby.

Some people are angry, some not satisfied with the government because they don't get relief at the right time. Some get food and shelter but they don't know what to do in the future because they have lost their boats and houses. Most of the affected people are fishermen and small children. They don't know in the future what they will do. They've lost their job now. They don't know any other work. they only know fishing.

Some fishermen are looked after by the police and they are not allowed to talk with me. I spoke other fishermen I met on the way and they say they are afraid if they talk they won't get supplies from the government.

(College student Suresh Kumar, 23, of Salem, Tamil Nadu is studying for his Masters degree in English at Annamalai University. He collected food and clothing from his neighbors and neighboring towns to give to the people in the disaster areas along the coast. He told Ngodup the collected 15,000 articles of clothing.)

Kumar says he was unable to take his donations into the affected areas at the shore because of the tsunami scare. He says, "It's bad becasue everyone is affected by this, mentally and physically...I think the fishermen who are staying on the way it's very difficult to pass their time... they don't know what to do in the future. It's very difficult for them to think about the future."

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