Tsunami memories return to haunt Tamil Nadu coast

March 14th, 2011 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 14 (IANS) The television visuals of tsunami waves gobbling up homes, vehicles and even planes in Japan brought back the memories of shock and horror to the people of Nagapattinam, the coastal district of Tamil Nadu.

The fishermen there bore the brunt of the 2004 tsunami that destroyed their coast.

The Dec 26, 2004, tsunami claimed over 8,000 lives along the Tamil Nadu coast, with around 6,100 lives lost in Nagapattinam district alone.

The disaster, sparked off by an undersea quake near Sumatra island, killed over 230,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and the Maldives.

“We watched the tsunami in Japan on TV. We couldn’t help crying. We know how they (Japanese people) feel,” Chinnathambi, a fisherman of Vanagiri village near Poomphuhar, told IANS.

“As you saw on the TV, the sea water was black when the waves hit our village in 2004. We remembered how people were tossed around by the water, many running for their life,” Chinnathambi recalled.

He added: “I lost about 40 of my relatives and friends, but fortunately no one in my immediate family. But for three days we were in suspense about the fate of Lily, my daughter.”

“I checked the bodies of children. We thought Lily was swallowed by the sea. Thank God, I found her at a relief camp 15 km from our place,” he said.

Lily, now 15, said she used to be scared every time she heard the sea nearby.

“Watching the TV, I remembered how we ran away from the beach. But we are not afraid to go to the beach now,” she told IANS.

C. Renu, Lily’s elder sister, said: “we were lucky compared to Japanese tsunami. Had something like that hit our village, we wouldn’t have survived.”

Some others in her village thought the 2004 tsunami was a one-off calamity, but the Japanese tsunami has showed them it is not so.

According to P. Sammikannu of Velankanni, the sea has changed here since 2004. “It has turned rough after that,” he said.

P. Kayalvizhi, a Class 12 student in Nagapattinam, told IANS: “What the tsunami taught us was that we can face anything in the world.”

Raghupathy Vaidyanathan, a software executive, was also reminded of the 2004 tsunami while watching the TV news from Japan. He and his family had to run for their life from the beach resort they were staying on the day of the disaster.

“The fear of sea is still there in us. We don’t go to the beach. We prayed for the Japanese people,” his wife Krithika told IANS.

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