A severe earthquake measuring 8.9 Richter
scale, was felt in Andaman and Nicobar Islands having epicentre
at 3.7N and 95E off the island of Sumatra between 0630 to 0635 hours
in the morning of 26th December, 2004. The quake was followed the
"Killer Waves" or Tsunami which caused extensive
damages to life & property in this archipelago.
But we would like to draw the attention of
all about the true picture of the effect/damage. The maximum damage
has been in the Nicobar group of Islands and NOT in the Andaman
group of islands. If you look at the map of the Andaman
& Nicobar Islands , you will find that Andaman & Nicobar
are two completely different group of islands.
The entire Andaman group of islands (excepting
Little Andamans) have been literally spared from the devastating
Tsunami. Most importantly there has been no injuries or deaths
amongst tourists - since tourists are anyway not allowed to visit
the Nicobar group of islands.
Things are now fast coming back to normal
here. Since, there has been no big damage in any of the major/popular
tourist spots/destinations (like Port Blair, Havelock, Neil island,
etc.) - Indian Airlines & Jet Airways have restarted their daily
scheduled flights from Kolkata (Calcutta) & Chennai (Madras)
and tourists are now allowed to come here once again.
There was a temporary prohibition (just as
a precautionary measure) on scuba diving for sometime - which has
also now been removed. So, tourists can now once again go for diving,
snorkeling, game fishing, etc. All the hotels & resorts
here are safe and fully functional now. Also the regular inter-island
ferry services have been restored.
The coral reefs of this archipelago are very
rich in spread and diversity - second only to the Great Barrier
Reef in Australia. In April 2001, an international team of Indian,
British and Australian scientists conducted a 10-day remote sensing
and rapid survey-based study on the Andaman coral reefs. The survey
showed that the Andaman coral reefs had been hardly affected by
coral bleaching that devastated coral reef systems worldwide in
1998. Another threat to the corals - the presence of the "crown-of-thorns"
starfish - was also non-existent in the Andamans.
Though there has not yet been any extensive
study of the coral reefs & marine life after the tsunami, but
the preliminary studies (which are currently going on over here)
have shown that they are very much OK.
Now that we are alive - the immediate question
in all of our minds is "How to Survive???" More than 60%
of the population over here is either directly or indirectly dependent
on Tourism. So, our appeal to all tourists worldwide is to NOT stop
visiting these islands out of panic & fear. Please be rest assured
that it is absolutely safe to visit here. So, please do come &
visit these pristine & exotic islands in order to help us in
rebuilding our economy which was & still is very much dependent
on Tourism !!!
For more details please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org