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January 28, 2001 - January 29, 2001

Quake to hit Gujarat gold trade, not crops Monday, January 29, 2001

- The earthquake that ravaged Gujarat could hit its gold trade, already suffering the impact of falling farmers' incomes, traders and analysts said on Sunday.
Many people would spend their money on rebuilding their homes or helping relatives, not on precious metal, following the quake on Friday that ripped through the agricultural and industrial coastal state, analysts said.

"Gold is always linked with prosperity. Without incomes, what will one buy?" said one trader.

Ahmedabad, Gujarat's largest commercial city, is the main hub of Indian gold imports.

The quake, the most powerful to strike India in half a century, killed up to 20,000 people and injured thousands more. Large areas of towns and cities were reduced to rubble.

Before the earthquake, gold consumption had already been depressed by a severe drought that hit the income levels of rural Indians who form the bulk of the consumers. The drought's effects were also expected to keep demand subdued in 2001.

Dealers had forecast India's demand would rise only marginally in 2001 to about 850-900 tonnes from an estimated 850 tonnes in 2000. Now, the quake would only subdue trade further.

"There is a massive loss of income for people which will reduce the demand for gold," he said. "This is coming over and above the loss of income through drought for two years in a row."


NO WEDDING RUSH

Another trader said in Ahmedabad the expected rise in demand for gold during the wedding season which lasts from January 15-February 15 now might not occur.

India, the world's largest gold consumer, meets most of its demand through imports.

However, commodity analysts said the state's main agricultural crop, oilseeds, would not be affected by the quake.

"The earthquake has only affected buildings. The crop is not affected by it," B.V. Mehta of the Solvent Extractors Association of India, told Reuters. He said the only oilseeds crop now in Gujarat were small quantities of rapeseed/mustard, groundnut and castor, harvested in February and March.

Gujarat harvests some 200,000 tonnes of rapeseed and 300,00-400,000 tonnes of rapeseed in summer. India annually grows two oilseeds crops, the bulk of them in winter.

Mehta said because of the drought, due to the failure of monsoon rains, the sowing of oilseeds in the state was already down by 50 percent from normal.

Analysts said even before the quake, crop conditions were not bright due to the drought. "The earthquake is not going to substantially affect the crop conditions in Gujarat," said one.

But he said some earthquake traumatised farmers might migrate to other areas, abandoning their crops.

Indian couple name new son "Bhukamp" Monday, January 29, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A boy born at the same time as the massive earthquake struck Gujarat has been named Bhukamp or "Earthquake" by his parents, the Asian Age newspaper reported on Sunday.

The baby boy was born in Ahmedabad at 08:46 am (0316 GMT) on Friday -- the precise time that a massive quake measuring up to 7.9 on the Richter scale hit the state, killing an estimated 15,000 people.

He was the first child of Yatin and Riddhi Pandiya, an architect-doctor couple.

"The due date (for the baby's birth ) was February 9," Dr Rajan Joshi, the gynaecologist attending on Riddhi Pandiya, was quoted by the Asian Age as saying.

"The mother went into labour (on Friday) ... We admitted her and started a caesarean operation," Joshi said.

However, just as the operation was about to get underway, the quake struck and the lights went out, Joshi said.

"We had no idea what was going on outside. The delivery was conducted in pitch darkness and successfully."

According to the paper, the idea to name the baby after the quake was the mother's.

Bhachau taluka left to fight it out on it's own. Monday, January 29, 2001

BHACHAU: While hordes of VIPs, VVIPs, national and international media representatives, rescue workers and the Army rushed to rescue the people of Bhuj, nearly two lakh residents of Bhachau taluka were left to fight it out on their own in the absence of any outside help.

Bhachau town, which 'was' a taluka headquarters in the Kutch district, is located barely 60 km away from Bhuj, if one goes by road. Once known for the temples and philanthropic spirit of the residents who have large number of families settled either in Mumbai or abroad, Bhachau 'ceased' to exist on Friday morning. And nobody came to rescue for at least 30 hours, by when most of those buried under the debris had died.

The destruction here is absolute. No man-made structure - temples, mosques, hospitals, police station, shops, houses - has survived.

It is impossible to estimate the number of dead in the town and the neighbouring 73 villages as there is no administration worth the name.

On Dudhai Road on the outskirts, the Gujarat Electricity Board station has collapsed while Vagad Seva Samaj Hospital is a heap of cots sandwiched between collapsed ceiling and the damaged floor. The once famous Garbi Chowk is a make-shift crematorium, eatery and resting place for the police.

Hand carts, bedspreads and even mattresses pulled out of the debris provide the only succour to the people.

State irrigation minister Nitin Patel who visited the town was surrounded by angry relatives of the victims, which led to some angry scenes.

An hour later, the minister brought a bulldozer, the first machine to be pressed into relief operations.

Mild tremors in Bhuj yet again Monday, January 29, 2001

A series of mild tremors hit Bhuj late Sunday night, two days after a devastating earthquake flattened most buildings in the area, killing thousands.

There was no immediate reports of casualties or damage to property.

The tremors, measuring 3.3 and 4.4 on the Richter scale, were experienced in Bhuj and surrounding areas, between 2010 and 2255 hours, Ahmedabad Met Department director R K Kankane stated.

He said the epicentre was 40 km north north-east of Bhuj.

Konkane said Sunday's tremors were felt only in Kutch district.

He said that from Friday, 82 jolts have been reported till Sunday night, of which two had an impact.

About 50,000 people flee homes in Ahmedabad Sunday, January 28, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Over 50,000 people living in high rise buildings in the quake-hit parts of Ahmedabad city have left their houses fearing fresh tremors.

Panic-stricken people have vacated their houses since Friday and either moved out to open spaces or to other safer places.

People living in about 10,000 flats in nearly 412 high rise buildings have moved out, civic sources said.

High rise apartments in satellite, drive-in, Vastrapur, Ambavadi and Vasna areas have developed cracks.

The Ahmedabad municipal corporation as well as the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority have issued notices to the residents of the vulnerable buildings to keep them vacant for the next 15 days.

People have taken shelter in open spaces and gardens, alongside the highway and in the make-shift shelter homes.

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