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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Tsunami survivors flood camps in India

© UNICEF India/2004
UNICEF is providing 2,475 water storage tanks to the camps and hospitals in the hardest-hit areas
NEW DELHI, India, 29 December 2004 –UNICEF is sending emergency items and staff to various relief camps and hospitals in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

The Government of Tamil Nadu has set up 200 relief sites in the state in seven affected districts. An estimated 200,000 people are in relief camps in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry.

The south of India has been gravely impacted by this weekend’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting deadly tsunamis, which have left nine south Asian countries in chaos and ruin. At last count 4,000 people have died in India. Thousands of children are missing or have been injured.

The situation on the Indian islands of Andaman and Nicobar, which lie close to the epicentre of the quake, remains unclear.

© UNICEF India/2004
Children are lining up in front of the water tanks provided by UNICEF
UNICEF’s teams are coordinating closely with the national, state and local governments to establish basic sanitation, hygeine and safe drinking water in the camps and to bring psycho-social counseling to the children.

UNICEF is also providing relief supplies to the camps and hospitals in the hardest-hit areas. UNICEF is providing 2,475 water storage tanks (500 litres each), 3 million chlorine tablets and 70,000 oral rehydration packets. In Tamil Nadu, they are providing medical supplies sufficient to serve 30 health centers as well as 30,000 blankets.

“Ensuring that families who have moved into relief camps get clean drinking water is a top priority,” said UNICEF’s supply officer in Delhi, Mr. Kalesh Kumar. “That means getting water tanks into those areas as quickly as possible and supplying purification tablets as well as oral rehydration salt packets. That will save more lives from being lost in this disaster, which is our number one job right now.”

The UNICEF team visiting Kanyakumari was told in one such camp run by a local church that "we may be on the brink of a diarrhoea epidemic" with 4,000  people depending on 15 toilets in the church premises.

Most of the survivors arrived at the camps with nothing

“Villages have become ghost villages with broken, empty houses and stench of decomposed human bodies prompting the police where to look for victims. Thousands of families have abandoned their houses and are living in camps that are being run by churches and non-governmental institutions,” said Anupam Srivastava, a UNICEF staff member from the Bihar office who was deployed to Tamil Nadu.

UNICEF is working with its partner agencies and the government to bring much-needed assistance to the survivors of the disaster.




27 December 2004:
UNICEF India’s Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation programme describes the devastation on the ground outside of Chennai, India

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