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February 1, 2001 - February 1, 2001

Advani 'gheraoed' by Gandhidham residents Thursday, February 1, 2001

GANDHIDHAM: Union Home Minister L K Advani was 'gheraoed' on Wednesday by the agitated residents of this town who complained of'gross neglect' by state administration in respect of rescue and relief operations.

The people told Advani that neither the district collector nor any police official visited the area since the quake hit this part of Gujarat.

Advani directed state urban development minister Parmanand Khattar, who was accompanying him, to personally look into the problems faced by the people of the town.

Gujarat's quake toll is anybody's guess Thursday, February 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: How many people have perished in the killer earthquake that devastated Gujarat on the Republic Day? Most estimates agree on the figure of 20,000. After that, it depends on whom you talk to.

Though defence minister George Fernandes apprehended that the toll could gallop to 100,000 mark, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had termed it as "personal assessment" of Fernandes. "It is very difficult to hazard a guess at present about the exact death toll," he said.

Refusing to hazard a guess on the toll, home minister L K Advani had said any overestimate could create panic in the minds of the people.

Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya put the toll at a conservative 25,000.

The Red Cross on Wednesday said the number of deaths in the Gujarat earthquake could touch 50,000 but was unlikely to be one lakh. Bob McKerrow, head, South Asian regional delegation of International Red Cross, said from various inputs he believed that a figure of 50,000 dead was realistic. But with thousands still buried under debris, the number of deaths may not be known for a long time.

7 more tremors felt in Bhuj; Ahmedabad rocked too Thursday, February 1, 2001

NEW DELHI: At least seven aftershocks measuring 3.7 to 4.5 on the Richter scale were recorded in the worst-affected Bhuj district of Gujarat since Wednesday morning, meteorological officials said here on Wednesday.

The officials said Bhuj, which has been the epicentre of Friday's devastating earthquake, recorded the first quake of 3.7 magnitude at 0259 hours.

The last quake of 4.2 magnitude was recorded at 1302 hours, they said.

An earthquake of 4.5 intensity, which was recorded at 0904 hours, has been of maximum intensity so far, the officials said.

As many as 110 aftershocks measuring more than three on the Richter scale have been recorded in and around the district so far.

Tremors scare Ahmedavadis

Meanwhile, as Ahmedabad appeared limping back to normal on Wednesday, a tremor in the afternoon created panic among people who ran out of their homes, offices and establishments.

As the tremor, which shook buildings, was felt, people screamed out to their colleagues and neighbours to run out for safety.

Business establishments immediately pulled down the shutters and people came out in the open.

Earlier in the day, life looked like returning to normal with shops and business establishments opening after a closure for almost five days and traffic was as usual.

Though schools and other educational institutions have been closed till February 4, attendance was more than half in private and government offices and banks till people left in panic after the tremor at around 1510 hours.

Gujarat Government revises death toll estimate to 25,000 Thursday, February 1, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat government revised its estimated death toll from last week's earthquake to between 24,000 and 25,000 on Wednesday. The vast majority of those killed were in the Kutch region, where the epicentre of Friday morning's quake was located.

Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya said more than 12,000 people had been confirmed dead and added that the final figure was expected to be "somewhere around 24,000 to 25,000."

Of the 600,000 affected people in Kutch, four percent were believed to have been killed.

"Outside the Kutch region, the toll will be something like 1,500," Pandya told reporters in Ahmedabad.

Pandya's remarks came after defence minister George Fernandes had put the number of those killed as high as 100,000, with twice as many injured.

Quake damage could be over Rs 10,000 cr: Advani Thursday, February 1, 2001

GANDHIDHAM: The Centre on Wednesday indicated that the property loss in the Gujarat earthquake could be more than Rs 10,000 crore. "The loss can be in five figures," home minister L K Advani, who arrived here on a two-day tour of the quake-hit areas said.

Asked about Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel's communication to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the loss estimates, Advani said, "We are still assessing the damage and devastation suffered by the state and the loss of lives."

"It is impossible to estimate how many people have been killed," Advani said, adding that property, trade and business had been completely destroyed in different parts of the state, especially in the Kutchh region.

Patel, in his letter, had said almost complete destruction of property had taken place in Bhuj, Rapar and Anjar in Kutchh and Morvi in Rajkot district. "The value of private property destroyed by the earthquake is over Rs 6000 crore," Patel said.

The chief minister said that the people would have to be provided financial assistance to enable them re-enter their business and economic activities.

Due to the severe drought for the second successive year and the earthquake, the state did not have enough resources to meet the expenses of relief and rehabilitation work.

"This burden is way beyond the the capacity of the state government," Patel said in his letter.

Gandhidham looks like a ghost town, wearing a deserted look.

Almost entire population of the township has been camping in open air for the fifth day on Wednesday, as activists of non-governmental organisations went around distributing food packets to the harried and shocked people.

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