Tsunami Information in Andaman
Countary to the half-baked rumors that emerged from the region in the days following the devastating tsunami of December 26, 2004, the Andamans did not suffer total destruction. After a much worse initial assessment, the official death count in the two island chains was 454, with a further 3073 declared missing, presumed dead. Almost all of these fatalities occurred in the Nicobars, which lie much closer to the earthquake’s epicenter off Indonesia, especially the islands of Car Nicobar, Katchall and Great Nicobar. The only island in the Andamans to suffer extensively was Little Andaman. In addition, there was Rs. 3300 crore’s worth of damage to roads, jetties, farmland and private property.
The handful of deaths and the structural damage in the Port Blair area mainly to a few old buildings around the town and quay, and the water sports complex at Aberdeen Jetty were caused by the earth quake itself rather than the ensuing tsunami. Elsewhere, the Austin Bridge connecting Middle and North Andaman also had to be closed for repairs. No foreigners suffered anything more serious than the loss of a few belongings, and the worst effect for the tourist industry was that the flow of visitors to the islands diminished almost to nothing in the month following the disaster.
Remarkably, in both the Andamans and Nicobars there was not a single reported fatality amongst those indigenous natives who are still allowed to live in the traditional way, even on islands which were badly battered. Tribal people are said to have been alerted to the impending tragedy by observing the agitation amongst the wildlife, and quickly shifted to higher ground.