Govt of India update on the quake
Government of India
Press Release: January 31, 2001
Chances of rescuing more survivors in the devastating earthquake in Gujarat are fading fast five days after the quake hit the state on Friday. Over one lakh ( 100,000) people are believed to be still trapped under mounds of debris in Bhuj, Anjar, Bachau and Rapar. The focus has now been shifted to rehabilitating the affected people. Rescue and relief teams comprising government agencies, NGOs and local people supported by teams from abroad are tirelessly engaged in providing foodgrains, temporary shelter and safe drinking water to lakhs and lakhs of earthquake victims in Bhuj, Ahmedabad and other areas in the state. Attention is also being paid to adequate medical treatment for thousands of injured people. Relief material including medicines are pouring in and the need of the hour is proper coordination and communication. Reports also indicate that despite the rescue teams’ best efforts to reach out to people, some earthquake ravaged areas are still awaiting relief material.
The strength of the army personnel engaged in ‘Operation Sahayata’ has been increased to 22,000. The Indian Air Force has so far carried 1900 tonnes of material. Relief operations by the Navy, locally controlled from Kandla, are continuing and the victims are being admitted to the Naval ships-turned hospital, INS Nirdeshak and INS Jamuna, where surgeries are being conducted on board. The Agricultural Secretary Mr. Barua said, the State Government at present needs more tents, shelter material and heavy machinery to remove the debris. It also requires food, clothing medicines, bleaching powder and other items to help the victims and prevent breaking out of epidemics. UNICEF has launched a massive campaign to supply safe drinking water and immunize people against contagious diseases. Their “family survival kits” have become important components of relief.
While the State Government puts the death toll at 20,000, the Defence Minister, Mr. George Fernandes who visited the worst affected areas of Bhuj, Anjar, Rapar and Ahmedabad, indicated that it could be around one lakh. The funeral pyres have been burning all over Gujarat for the past four days and extra firewood is being shipped in from other states to keep them fuelled. With fear psychosis prevailing, people continue to leave the worst hit areas as fresh tremors shook parts of Gujarat. Six aftershocks measuring from 3.3 to 4.5 on the Richter Scale were recorded in Bhuj and Ahmedabad Monday night. The State Minister for Home and Information, Mr. Haren Pandya says that the government has decided to take the responsibility of bringing up all those who have become orphans. He said police camps will be set up every ten kilometers and police patrolling will be intensified in the affected areas to prevent looting and other crimes. Mr. Pandya said about 70 high rise buildings in Ahmedabad have to be pulled down as they have become dangerously unsafe. The army has, in fact, started pulling these down with the help of the explosives.