Friday, December 26, 2014

Revisiting the tsunami of Dec 2004: andamanicobar group

Dear Friends,
Today is, as we all know, the 10th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami of December 2004, that influenced and changed the A&N islands like nothing we have known. As we remember what happened and take account of the changes, I thought it will be interesting to go back to the archives of the andamanicobar yahoogroup (that I have been moderating for over a decade) to see what happened here in the immediate aftermath of that event.
What I intend to do over the next few weeks is to re-post one (or perhaps) two posts from the e-group archive corresponding to that day exactly 20 years ago. I thought it will be a good way to remember and also to understand how things transpired and also to perhaps evaluate the value and relevance of this group itself. Before I do that however, I thought I'll also give a little history of the group that might be of interest. The group was started in October 2003 and had about 300 members in December 2004 when the tsunami struck. As would be expected interest in the islands surged and member of the group doubled to about 600 members in a months time. The number, of course, is small but that it doubled was of interest. The group has continued to be active since then with very important and relevant information being made available and rich and lively debates and discussions. The membership stands today at a little more than 1500 and this has roughly been the number for sometime now.

It is also interesting to note that the month of January 2005, the month immediately after the tsunami saw the maximum number of posts for a month on the group till date. That month we saw a total of 263 posts, a number that has not been surpassed yet for a monthly account though the membership has more than doubled.

Dec 26, 2004
1153 hrs
Dear Friends,
Below is the news item from the BBC on a major earthquake that hit South East Asia, earlier in the day. This news item does not mention the A&N at all, but there has been wide spread damage in the islands too. I am sending a separate mail with some initial information that we have gleaned from talking to friends in Port Blair.

Pankaj Sekhsaria

Tidal waves and tremors hit Asia

Significant casualties are being reported following tidal waves and earth tremors in countries across southern and eastern Asia. Large tidal waves striking coastal parts of Sri Lanka have reportedly killed at least 150 people.
Earlier, a massive earthquake, said to measure 8.5, hit Indonesia's Sumatra island at roughly 0800 local time. Earth tremors have also been reported in Bangladesh, while tourist resorts in Thailand have been hit by high tides. After the Indonesian quake, panicked people reportedly fled their homes in the towns of Medan and Banda Aceh, the capitals of two of Sumatra's provinces.
The US Geological Survey measured the quake at 8.5 magnitude. Indonesia's geological position - along the Pacific "Ring of Fire" - makes it prone to earthquakes and volcanoes. Electricity and telephone networks in the area have stopped working, making it difficult to confirm the extent of the damage, the BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta reports.

Ground shaking
Indonesia's worst-hit region appears to be Aceh, a strife-torn province on Sumatra's northern-most tip which has seen heavy clashes between government soldiers and separatist rebels. Several houses in the towns of Banda Aceh and Lhokseumawe are said to have been damaged or washed away in flash floods.
A witness interviewed by a local radio station reported seeing nine bodies in Banda Aceh, where part of the town's largest hotel is said to have collapsed. "The ground was shaking for a long time," another witness told the radio station.The impact of the earthquake has been recorded as far afield as the Thai capital, Bangkok, and Singapore.
In November, 29 people died when an earthquake struck Indonesia's eastern province of Papua.


Dec 26, 2004
1155 hrs

Dear Friends,
Some initial information gleaned from friends in Port Blair indicates that there has been widespread damage caused in Port Blair because of the earthquake that hit about 6.30 IST. There reports of atleast two deaths as well. Many of the concrete, multistorey buildings in the city have developed cracks and at least one is said to have collapsed.
The Phoenix Bay jetty is also said to have gone half under water, as the city has been hit by tidal waves. Large parts of Port Blair are said to be without power and the telephone network has also been affected. Minor tremors were reported even as of about 11 am IST.
Car Nicobar, which is a rather flat island is supposed to have been badly hit, but there is no additional information. There is no news from Great Nicobar or the other Nicobar Islands which were even closer to the epicentre of the earthquake in Sumatra in Indonesia. Similarly there is yet no information from other parts of the Andamans such as North and Middle Andamans either.

Pankaj Sekhsaria

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