WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka




Details of displaced families and deaths in the Batticaloa District as at 1200hrs on 30/12/2004

    No. of displaced families No. of IDPs Deaths missing camps
1. Manamunai North






2. Kattankudy






3. Paddipalai






4. Vellavely






5. Arayampathy






6. Vaharai






7. Oddamavady






8. Kiran






9. Koralai Pattu Centre






10. Chenkalady






11. Valachenai






12. Kaluvanchikudi






13. Eravur Town






14 Vavunathivu
















Batticaloa : An eyewitness account from Sri Lanka

December 31, 2004



© Copyright Christian Aid

Batticaloa. Christian Aid’s Asia specialist, Anjali Kwatra, is part of a Christian Aid emergency assessment team in Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka. Here is her eyewitness account.

We spent the day in the village of Dutchbar three miles away from our base in Batticaloa, on the east coast of Sri Lanka.

It was unbelievable. I don’t know how many houses were there originally – maybe a 100. Today there were three or four left standing – and these are proper brick houses.

There will still be bodies under there. Everywhere were children’s toys and plates of food.

I spoke to a man, Stanley Barthlot, aged 57. On Sunday morning he left his house to go to work. The wave struck 15 minutes later.

His wife, two daughters and two-year-old grand daughter were swept away. He has only found one body.

They won’t be part of the official death toll. In fact it is likely the true death toll will never be known.

People have been told not to bring corpses to the hospitals any more. They are overflowing so people are burying them were they can.

And many bodies have been washed away without a trace, so they won’t be counted.

No one here has been untouched by death. Everyone knows someone who’s been lost.

People are traumatized and in shock and survivors also feel guilty. People were clinging to their loved ones - friends and family in the water - and many were washed away. They lost their grip on them. It’s dreadful.

There is also a clear sense of fear. People are very afraid that another wave will strike.

I was talking to a woman in Dutchbar when the news of another tsunami came over the radio.

Her husband began shouting to her that they had to leave because more water was coming. The roads suddenly filled with people trying to jump on cars and trucks. The roads were choked.

All the survivors from Dutchbar are staying in a camp in Batticaloa. People are getting basic food – rice and lentils – but little else.

The sanitation is bad. There are only 10 toilets for 2,000 or so people and there’s only one well.

Christian Aid’s partner organisations, who we are funding here in Batticaloa, were giving out food within hours of this disaster striking on Boxing Day.

One partner used a tractor Christian Aid bought for them to rescue people who had been cut off by the water.

Many people have lost their livelihoods. Houses, fishing boats, rickshaw taxis have all been destroyed and people do not have insurance.

These people have lost everything. But no one is thinking about tomorrow. They are thinking about food and water today. Nothing else.

People are saying: why did no one tell us this was going to happen? Why weren’t we warned?

There is a shortage of equipment and vehicles and there is a big fear about the public health situation deteriorating.

Local organisations are working here – supported by Christian Aid. But there are few international aid agencies here.

Food is less of a priority, but more is needed. Our partners are planning to start cleaning wells and disposing of rubbish.

The biggest problem is health. They have medicine but more doctors and nurses are needed.

So much is happening it’s hard to take it all in, hard to know how people are coping and where to begin to sort this out. But we can’t stop to worry about ourselves – everyone here is just pitching in.
Muslims on Tsunami hit southeast coast suffer heavily

[TamilNet, December 31, 2004 15:42 GMT]

Muslims who live in densely populated villages along the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka suffered heavy casualties in Sunday’s Tsunami, with at least ten thousand killed. Rescue and relief efforts in Muslim towns and villages on the southeastern coast are hampered by lack of coordination and heavy rains. Seventy two Muslim schools were completely washed off and eighty five mosques were severely damaged, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Mr. Hassan Ali told TamilNet Thursday.

Meanwhile, Assistant Government Agent (AGA), A.L.M.Phaleel said the family of each person killed by the Tsunami in Kalmunai is being given 10, 000 rupees and that each injured person is being granted 5000 rupees.

Mr. S. M Izzadeen, a member of the local monitoring mission for the Batticaloa district told TamilNet Thursday that although Tamils and Muslims are coordinating relief and rescue work in many parts of Amparai and Batticaloa, more volunteers in the remoter areas of the southeast coast are urgently required. He said that according to latest figures at least ten thousand Muslims died in the Tsunami.

Liberation Tigers who are involved in rescue and relief operations in the region said that they are trying to coordinate their work with community organizations and authorities that are already working in Muslim towns and villages affected by the Tsunami.

Officially, the Sri Lankan government is in charge of rescue and relief operations in the Muslim areas devastated by the Tsunami on Sri Lanka’s east and southeastern coast. But Muslim politicians and journalists to whom TamilNet spoke, complained that Colombo is not doing enough to handle the crisis.

"Unless there is a proper coordinated mechanism involving all the major authorities like GoSL, LTTE and Muslims, it would be difficult to achieve a proper delivery of relief supply", a Muslim journalist from Batticaloa who toured the Tsunami affected areas of Amparai told TamilNet.

Around 6500 bodies recovered in the Muslim areas worst hit by the Tsunami, Sainthamaruthu Martuhamunai and Kalmunaikkudi, were buried and cremated until Thursday. More bodies are buried in the sand that came in with the Tsunami and under fallen buildings.

Everything up to 500 metres inland from the shore was flattened by the Tsunami in these areas.

In Maruthamunai, about 36 kilometres south of Batticaloa, the local government hospital was destroyed by the Tsunami, killing several members of the medical staff, including a doctor who was on duty at the time. Sayinthamaruthu Hospital too was damaged by the giant waves.

Kalmunaikudi, the densely populated Muslim suburb of Kalmunai town, 40 kilometres south of Batticaloa, suffered worst as the sea clogged the narrow streets, killing hundreds who were fleeing the giant wave.

The well known Kadakkaraipalli Mosque, which draws thousands of devotees to its annual flag festival, was also severely damaged by the Tsunami. More than three thousand were killed when this suburb was hit directly by two Tsunami waves.

Mr. Hasan Ali of the SLMC said some parents who saw their children being pulled away by the sea when the wave hit Ahadiya Maddhrasa in Ninthavur are in a state of severe trauma. Forty-two children were killed here on Sunday.

Tamils living near Kalmunaikudi said that some of their kith and kin that were killed in the area had been buried according to Muslim rites. Hundreds of unidentified bodies in the area were buried quickly by survivors the day after the Tsunami in accordance with the tenets of Islam, which stipulate that a Muslim should be buried within 24 hours of his or her death.

Further south, initial reports said that the Muslim coastal villages of Oluvil and Palamunai also suffered heavy casualties, although numbers were not known. The recently developed fisheries harbour in Oluvil has been wiped out. A lighthouse there was damaged by the waves.

The plight of Muslim fishing families in the area is not known. Most are believed dead.

The booming fisheries industry in Muslim areas on the island's southeast coast, particularly in Sayinthamaruthu, Maalikaikaddu, Oluvil and Pottuvil has been virtually wiped out by Sunday's Tsunami.

Hundreds of medium fibre glass fishing craft and the more expensive day boats were destroyed by the waves. Millions of ruppees of worth of fishing gear were lost.

Driven by a growing shortage of arable lands and the prospect of greater profit in in modernised fisheries, thousands of Muslims turned to the sea for their livelihood in the last two decades.

They were able to prosper soon as the Sri Lankan military placed severe restrictions on fishing in Tamil areas and because demand for fisheries exports in Colombo went up.

However, the mainstay of the Muslims' economy in Amparai, rice farming, was untouched by the calamities of Sunday's Tsunami as the thousands of acres of fertile paddy lie far from the reaches of the sea in the hinterlands of the southeastern coast.


WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka