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January 27, 2001 - January 28, 2001

Valsad, billimora and Navsari also effected by earthquake. Sunday, January 28, 2001

Valsad and Billimora have also been affected by the tremors of earthquke. Buildings & complexes are damaged with cracks on its wall, weakinging the foundation. People living here in fear, are forced to remain awake through the night.
Seven people have been reported killed in Navsari & 12 casualties have reported in Billimora.
Certain areas in Valsad, Billimora & Navsari have been vacated and people have been forced to live in make shift residence.

More Images from Ahmedabad. Sunday, January 28, 2001

More Images from Ahmedabad

Firemen and civilians removing the debris to look for survivors at Pooja Apartments in Ahmedabad.

Death toll may go beyond 15,000 Saturday, January 27, 2001

Officials at the science and technology ministry concede in private conversations that the death toll in Friday's earthquake could go well beyond 15,000.

"This is the worst 'quake that has hit the country. Even worse than Latur in Maharastra few years back where more then 10,000 people lost their lives," a top S&T ministry official and member of the crisis management group said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Additional Director General, Indian Meteorological Department, S K Srivastav more or less confirmed the afore-quoted official's statement, saying that almost all the villages and towns within a radius of 50 kilometres of Bhuj in Gujarat have been wiped out.

"With a quake of this intensity -- 6.9 on the Richter scale -- it is assumed that the epi-centre of the 'quake must have been totally devastated. Our worst fears could come true," said Srivastav.

He refused to speculate what would happen to Delhi if a similar 'quake were to hit the capital which lies in seismic zone four.

"Let us not speculate. Please do not try to put words into my mouth. But I can tell you that if such an eventuality were to arise it would create havoc. Because Delhi lies under seismic zone four and here a quake of the intensity up to 7 can always strike."

"But comparatively Mumbai would not face such a problem as it is not prone to seismic activity of this nature," he added.

Srivastav said the minor jolts felt in Bhavnagar before the earthquake had no relation with Friday's disaster. "There is no way scientists could predict the earthquake. China did it once, but failed the second time. Even Japan -- which lie in seismic zone five -- cannot predict earthquakes."

"What you can do is minimise the damage by telling people what kind of houses to build when you are in a seismic zone. You cannot hope to walk on the razor edge, barefeet. You have to be equipped. If you place your throat on the razor you know what would happen."

On whether there was a discrepancy in the measurement of the 'quake by the IMD and other observatories around the world, Srivastav said there was no controversy.

"The observatories in the country where the 'quake occurs measure the intensity by body wave magnitude, whereas other observatories round the world measure the same by surface wave magnitude. The body wave magnitude is more accurate."

Dr G D Gupta, advisor at the S&T ministry, also agreed that the death toll could be much higher.

"I would not be able to give you any figure because there is a disparity between the figures given by the media and the ones given by government agencies. But the death toll could be higher than our expectations. It could go beyond Latur," Dr Gupta felt.

"One peculiar thing is that in this 'quake many buildings have collapsed completely. We still do not know the full extent of damage. The damage to even well constructed houses in Ahmedabad and surrounding places has surprised us. In Latur the houses were not properly built."

25 school children, teachers dead in Ahmedabad school collapse. Saturday, January 27, 2001

As the earthquake hit Ahmedabad on Friday, several children of the Swami Narayana School had gathered to participate in the Republic Day function.
Some had been attending a special science practical exam.

Unfortunately for them the quake hit so suddenly that only a few could run to safety.

Atleast a 30 of them took refuge under a staircase as the school building came tumbling down.

Deputy commandant of the Rapid Action Force, H.P.S.Buller said that rescue workers had pulled out 25 bodies, including four children who were still alive, and three dead teachers.

A further four bodies were pulled out shortly after, and rescue workers said that at least five children could still be trapped inside.

Amid the constant buzz of diggers, cranes and pneumatic drills, anxious parents waited, clinging to hope which seemed to drain as the bodies were extracted from the rubble.

The relief workers said six children had managed to run out of the school before it collapsed.

All those brought out alive had been rushed to a nearby hospital.

Buller said they had not heard any voices from under the rubble since about 2 p.m.on Friday afternoon.

Rescue workers from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), put up canopies for the relatives of the children and provided them with food and water.

Angry parents wanted to know why the buildings were so poorly constructed, especially a school building.

"Every building in the city didn't collapse.

Why this one? Why one for children?" demanded one woman.

She said the building was just one year old and had been built in six months.

Govt accepts Swiss sniffer dogs to help in rescue. Saturday, January 27, 2001

The government has accepted 'sniffer dogs', offered by the Swiss Government, to extricate the dead and trapped victims of the earthquake in Bhuj and other cities of Gujarat.

"Our first priority is extricating those trapped and the dead," said Agriculture Secretary Bhaskar Baruah, who is the nodal point for natural disasters in India.

"Although our policy is not to take help from abroad, we have gratefully accepted assistance from abroad," added Baruah.

He pointed out that Russia, Japan, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland and the US had offered assistance to the victims.

"Luckily, there has been no power grid collapse," Baruah said.

He pointed out that Gujarat's power needs were 5,900 mw. And at present 5,300 mw is still available.

Fifty specialists from NTPC and GRIDCO have rushed to Bhuj to restore damaged power lines.

Baruah said, "Blankets, generators, potable water, milk powder and food packets have been rushed to the victims."

The Coast Guard is ferrying doctors to the affected areas.

Southern army commander General Vij is in Bhuj along with Defence Minister George Fernandes, to oversee relief operations.

According to Baruah, ''Till 0900 hours on Saturday, 2,300 bodies had been found, while there were 14,500 people injured. The casualty figures are likely to increase."

Nearly, 4,000 blankets have been sent; another 20,000 will be flown on Saturday, while 50,000 will be sent later, he said.

He pointed out that Bhuj airport was operational now. Nine flights of IL-76s will be flown to Bhuj and other parts of Gujarat on Saturday, besides 16 helicopters.

In another development, 60 doctors from New Delhi have been rushed to Bhuj and doctors have also rushed from Bombay, where efforts are on to send maximum medical supplies and food packages.

Nearly 150 jeeps have also been sent to the quake affected areas. Central government public sector undertakings are also helping out; Hindustan Zinc, IFFCO and CRIBHCO are taking care of sending food supplies. Besides that paramilitary forces like the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, CIFS and Rapid Action Force have been rushed to the affected areas.

Hundren generatos have been sent from Bombay alone.

Baruah pointed out that people had slept out at night, due to fear, and he clarified that there was no shortage of food.

Roads are operational now in Bhuj.

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