No clear evidence of epidemic: Red Cross Thursday, February 1, 2001
Dr A Goto, a medical expert in the Japanese medical delegation working with the International Federation of Red Cross at Bhuj, told rediff.com Thursday that there is no clear evidence of an epidemic spreading in Kutch.
Information Officer for the International Federation of Red Cross in New Delhi, Bijoy Patro, said: "We have not called any epidemic control specialists."
Patro said the organisation had set up four field hospitals with specialist doctors from Europe and Japan. A medical team from China is expected in a couple of days.
A 350-bed hospital is being set up at Bhuj and would be functional by Thursday evening. It will have advanced operative facilities and will manage anything from childbirth to neurosurgery.
To take care of the demand for clean water, a German water sanitisation unit has been installed in Bhuj. Medical teams of the Indian Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross visited the affected villages on Wednesday.
"Our Norwegian hospital unit was however stranded at the Dubai airport till early morning due to lack of landing space at Bhuj. Some planes are stranded at Bhuj airbase as they need refuelling. Nobody is to blame...the Air Force is trying its best to help," Patro said.
The ICRC is stating the death toll to be 50,000 -- the number its South Asian Regional Delegation Head Bob Mc Kerrow quoted to a section of the press on Wednesday.
Surviving residents of Anjaar have given up hope Thursday, February 1, 2001
Surviving residents of Anjaar have given up hope for their buried relatives, thousands of whom lie under the debris of the walled city. Only hoping to give them a decent burial/funeral, the survivors search for whatever remains in the debris to rebuild their lives.
"For the past two days I have been looking for my father and brother. But I need to look after my mother, we need to eat," says Mohan Solanki as he tries to locate whatever possible from the debris, that he believes was his home once. His father and brothers are buried in the wreckage, while his mother and he survived miraculously.
The city has no final count of the death toll, but the realities of life -- food, clothing, and the need to move on -- is biting hard, as tears dry up, emotions give way to the struggle to survive. In the numbing cold of the night that they spend out in the open, Anjaars's residents admit, "We have been waiting for so long, now we have no more hope."
From 20,000 to 35,000, the death toll varies. The city stinks, and the corpses are trapped under mangled iron rods, concrete slabs, dilapidated doors and lost by-lanes.
"We have no idea how many are under the debris," says an Army captain supervising the rescue operation.
Numerous bulldozers, gas cutters, earth movers and volunteers work through the day to make way into the walled city which has completely collapsed. Bodies continue to be pulled out every hour.
Bajrang Dal activists, members of local Muslim organisations and other residents help people pull out bodies. As they carry the decomposed bodies to waiting ambulances, the Bajrang Dal activists, dressed in saffron, shout, "Bolo, Jai Bajrangbali."
Making clear that no one is alive under Anjaar's debris, the Swiss rescue team and their sniffer dogs have left town. "They left because they believe there won't be any more people alive," says a local police officer.
The exact toll in the earthquake's worst known casualty -- of hundreds of school children marching through Anjaar on Republic Day -- is not clear. Several score children are still buried under the debris in a narrow lane of the walled city.
"I think there were around 450 children and about 100 teachers," says Batakbhai Pandya, one of the few survivors from the group and principal of a local school. He continues to remain indoors, trying to forget the images of his friend dying next to him.
This is the second earthquake to hit the town in 50 years. In the 1956 quake, 120 people died and about 50 shops were destroyed. "My father lost his shop to that quake. We have given up everything once again to Anjaar," says Ahmed Khatri, eldest member of one of Anjaar's most influential business families. His family lost several shopping complexes and their old mother to the Republic Day quake.
He stands around in dirty, torn clothes as he recalls the names of friends and relatives still lying under the debris. His son Mohammed Shafiq tries to recover the cash chest from one of the family's shops. "There should be a few thousand rupees in that," he says.
List of 29 buildings to be demolished in Ahmedabad on Thursday Thursday, February 1, 2001
The Ahmedabad municipal corporation will start demolishing 29 buildings, which were badly damaged in the earthquake on January 26 and which could collapse any time, from Thursday. The buildings will be rebuilt free cost by the state government.
The 68 Engineering Battalion of the Army has been called in to assist in the demolition.
Meanwhile, as an emergency measure, some government houses in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad will be provided rent-free to the quake-affected, for a year.
While 2159 houses will thus be provided in Gandhinagar, 460 houses will be provided in Ahmedabad. However, according to rough estimates, this number will be grossly inadequate since 131 buildings were completely destroyed on the first day of the quake itself, and 140 buildings were partially destroyed. So far, the number of buildings destroyed in the quake could run into thousands, it is felt.
On Wednesday, the Army pulled down three structurally damaged buildings -- Akshar Apartment, 15th Avenue Building and Amardeep Flats -- using detonators.
The buildings identified for demolition on Thursday are:
National Flats at Paladi
Siddh Sheela Flats at Vasana
Sharnam Flats at Vasana
Vrindavan Vihar at Vasana
Shraddha Flats at Vasana
Parihans near Jivraj Mehta Hospital
Chitavan Flats at Paladi
Shrifal Apartment at Paladi
Sheetal Baug at Paladi
Apollo Apartment at Paladi
Saheli Flats at Paladi
Chinai Baug Apartment near Law Garden
Parth Apartments, near Gulbai Tekera
Om Apartment at Azad Society, Ambavadi
Nayan Flats at Ambavadi
Padmashree Apartment near Gujarat University
Vishram Flats at Navrangpura
Rutwik Apartment near St Xavier's school
Rajavi Apartment near Naranpura
Urvi Flats near Ramnagar
Shivalya Flats near Sardar Patel Colony
Siddh Sheela Apartment near Godasar
Hill Park Apartment, F&G Block near Kakaria
Pujal Apartment near Mani Nagar
Shyam Apartment near Uttam Nagar Gardens
Modern Apartment, Mani Nagar
Ankur Apartment, Isanpur
Divya Laya Building, near Uttam Nagar Garden
There are still many buildings in the Auda area of Ahmedabad which need to be pulled down, and a survey of them is being done at present.
The Gujarat government has announced the setting up of an earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction fund to channelise all foreign aid and the government has decided to construct at least one lakh houses within one year to provide relief to those who have been affected.
13,500 bodies recovered so far: Haren Pandya Thursday, February 1, 2001
The toll in Friday's devastating earthquake in Gujarat was estimated at 25,000 and over 12,000 bodies were recovered in Kutch district alone, Minister of State for Home Haren Pandya said on Wednesday.
Another 1,500 bodies were recovered from other parts of the state, he said adding 14,000 injured have been treated.
Talking to reporters in Ahmedabad, Pandya said the quake had affected a population of 600,000 in Kutch district.
Pandya said the toll of 20,000 is based on the recovery of 12,000 bodies so far, the number reported missing, the estimated number still trapped under the rubble and reports collected by government agencies.
"The figure I am giving you today is the closest to the truth," he said adding "We are not trying to hide anything nor do we want to exaggerate the number."
Pandya hinted the toll might go up with the recovery of some more bodies as some persons were missing or lying under the debris in the devastated areas of Kutch district.
A total of 297 villages were affected in Kutch. The population area-wise is:
In Anjar alone, 2478 deaths have been reported with the clearance of debris. in Bhachau, 1289 bodies have been recovered.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister L K Advani on Wednesday faced angry crowd as he visited two places in quake-ravaged areas where people demanded adequate security against looters trying to grab unattended property and adequate relief materials.
In Bhachau in Kutch region, one of the most severely-hit areas, he was confronted by a group of residents who sought deployment of the army to protect them from looters who attacked them and fled with whatever was left of their belongings.
They complained that bands of looters were operating in the area where the destruction was enormous.
Advani assured the people that all efforts would be made to protect them and directed the accompanying officials, including those of the Border Security Force, to take immediate steps in this regard.
Agitated residents of Gandhidham town also gheraoed the home minister complaining of 'gross neglect' by the state administration in respect of rescue and relief operations.
Advani directed state Urban Development Minister Parmanand Khattar, who was accompanying him, to personally look into the complaints.
Red Cross puts toll at 50,000
Quake survivors get only half of rice quota Thursday, February 1, 2001
It's 2000 hours IST Wednesday. Day Six of the Aftermath in Anjaar, arguably one of the worst affected areas.
The pervasive darkness is punctuated by starlight. One has not yet heard of any plans for restoration of electricity supply.
In the darkness, attempts to locate Indian Army officials prove futile. One learns they have already retreated to tents; meanwhile, police officials have long disappeared from this area.
The overwhelming stench is nauseating: must be from fast decomposing dead bodies and carcasses. Yes, during the day, one did notice a heap of dead bodies outside the bazaar area. One also noticed locals moving about in masks.
A grief-stricken cloth merchant, Kamlesh Vora, says 11 of his relatives have died. He could find his mother's dead body, but not that of his brother.
Vora has no plans to flee from Anjaar. "My whole world has collapsed. Where and why should I run away? Even after six days, only 20 per cent of the dead bodies have been recovered. I don't know what to do," he says.
Mukul Bhatt is searching for his two brothers. Not a soul is visible around the rubble that was once their home. "Army-men don't work at night. They retire from the field at 6 pm," he says.
As one encounters locals and shares the terrifying experiences, one common strand runs through their accounts: there is a certain degree of dissatisfaction over the quality of rescue operations.
Some say they are too slow. Waiting for hours on end, to find if their dear ones trapped under the debris are alive or dead, is too traumatic, they say. "We hope to see their faces at least one last time," says a hapless bystander.
A government official makes a customary, conscientious and, yes, off-the-record confession: "Here, there's no coordination. The police, Army, non-government organisations should ideally work in tandem. Food and water are, thankfully, available but survivors are suffering out in the cold. People want material to build their own temporary shelters."
Local government officials agree that Anjaar as they knew it is history.
One saw former Gujarat chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki discussing with Sanjay Gupta, Chief Minister Keshubbhai Patel's special emissary, the contours of rescue efforts.
Solanki is disturbed that survivors are being given only five kilogrammes of grain, instead of the promised ten kilos. Gupta's ready stock-reply: "Shortage of supplies."
Besides power, there is also one more shortage: of patience among Anjaar's surviving denizens.
A resident says, "On January 26 and 27, miscreants looted the ruins of our property. But we won't call off our search for our dear ones, whether or not they are alive. It looks like it will take one more week. So be it."