Death Toll Hits 4,000 in India
NEW DELHI – A fresh tremor hit Indian islands far off the country's eastern coast Monday, a day after massive waves triggered by an undersea quake in Indonesia killed 4,000 people in India.
Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram (search) said the toll is likely to go up because it does not include figures from Car Nicobar (search), a remote island in the Bay of Bengal that was believed to have been devastated in Sunday's tidal waves.
"The figures are still coming in. Excluding Car Nicobar Island, the number will be close to 4,000. There are people still missing," Chidambaram said.
Police had earlier said Car Nicobar may have suffered about 3,000 deaths, but this has not been independently confirmed.
All the villages and the road along Car Nicobar's coast were washed away, the region's police chief S.B. Deol said in an interview with New Delhi Television network. The island is one of the more than 500 Andaman and Nicobar Islands, about 915 miles east of India's mainland.
Meanwhile, a fresh quake Monday in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (search) had a magnitude of 6.0, said Jaya Chandran of the Indian Meteorology Department. Details of casualties and damage from that quake were not immediately known.
India was trying to recover Monday from massive waves unleashed the previous day by the 9.0-magnitude quake in Indonesia — the world's biggest in 40 years.
The air force and coast guard used planes, helicopters and ships to deliver food and generators to ruined coastal areas, and to search for survivors.
Tamil Nadu (search) was India's worst-hit state, with waves sweeping away boats, homes and vehicles, said the state's top elected official, Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa.
"It's an extraordinary calamity of such colossal proportions that the damage has been unprecedented," she said in a statement.
"It all seems to have happened in the space of 20 minutes," she said. "A massive tidal wave of extreme ferocity ... smashed everything in sight to smithereens."
Tamil Nadu's beaches resembled open-air mortuaries as fishermen's bodies washed ashore, and retreating waters left behind others killed inland.
Sea water flooded the streets of Cuddalore town, flipping over dozens of cars and leaving some vehicles perched atop road dividers or floating in the roads like boats.
"My heart goes out in sympathy to all those families who have lost their dear ones due to this tragedy," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a televised statement.
Residents of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh (search) state spoke of 12-foot walls of water slamming into the shore.
"I was shocked to see innumerable fishing boats flying on the shoulder of the waves, going back and forth into the sea, as if made of paper," said P. Ramanamurthy, 40, who lives in Andhra Pradesh's Kakinada town.