Nicobar is a dot on the map situated between North
Andaman and Great Nicobar Islands, a lonely island
surrounded by miles and miles of the sea. Some of us
who had been to Car Nicobar in the past, remember
the thatched huts of the locals mounted on stilts
because of the lowness of the land. The placid pace
of life based entirely on the coconut palms and the
rice which they grow. The men and women bare bodied
except for their colourful sarongs. It is sad to
know that all this has been wiped out by one
Armed Forces and Coast Guard once again rose to the
occasion swiftly and the tremendous loyalty of
effort of the young and middle-aged pilots of the
Indian Air Force and the Navy deserves the nation's
gratitude. The Navy sailed off its ships to rescue
the needy and help Maldives and Sri Lanka and to do
We post below
a dispatch sent by a senior
Air Force Officer to tell us of the devastation of
the officers quarters at Car Nicobar (CARNIC) and the
aftermath, as 200 IAF personnel and families were
saved by climbing on to the 200 foot high Radar Tower.
Indira Point was wiped off the map and we read that some Indian and foreign
scientists were lost. There was talk of setting up a
listening cum tracking station at Indira Point and
there could be some connections or the scientists
(?) were doing some research work.
We offer our
condolences to all the families who lost their loved
ones, as we come to terms with this disaster.
also post below that an interesting item from The
Daily Telegraph of 28th December.
Is Creating History
A Senior IAF Officer
earthquake destroyed a large number of married
quarters, which had been built strategically on the
beach, no doubt in order to get the best view of the
sea. These took the brunt of the wall of seawater.
About 15 minutes earlier the population had
been rudely shaken out of their beds by the
earthquake and came out of their houses, in their
nighties and pyjamas. By the time the tsunami hit,
they had started drifting back into their houses.
Suddenly the sea backed off from the coast and came
like a huge wall, several meters high. People
outside noticed this, started running away from the
sea face, over the rough scrub, towards high ground,
towards the runway, which is about 30–40' above
beach level. Some had little kids and infants in
their arms. In the process they had to cross a
retaining wall and a barbed wire fence. These were
the ones who survived, although many of them were
overtaken by the water and couldn't keep a hold of
their young ones. the loss of a baby from your own
arms must be I think one of the most gut wrenching
who were inside the houses had no chance.
on right shows the devastation of the Air Station
area at Car Nicobar
force of the water was so great that all thats left
of the first row of house is the cement plinth no
roof, no walls. I don't think these hapless souls
had a chance; they would have been severely injured
or even killed by the debris long before they
drowned in the swirling waters. May their souls rest
the mental and physical trauma, the Station
Commander, other IAF personnel and their families
showed great resolve and courage. They quickly organised themselves and provided what little
succour they could to each other. Among those swept
away were pilots of the local helicopter squadron.
Nevertheless those that survived were soon at the
squadron, knowing that their machines and skills
would be required.
The airmen also gathered and they got the
helicopters ready for action. Still in their pyjamas
(all clothing had been swept away) these intrepid
pilots got airborne and started their search and
rescue operations. Some of you may have seen the TV
clip showing the Station Commander Gp Capt
Bandopadhya receiving the CAS in his vest and
pyjamas. That must be a sort of a first!
narrating is the story of a 12-year old girl, who
found herself in the water.
She clutched on to flotsam and then managed
to mount a floating door panel.
She then paddled her way back to land using
her hands, and then walked back to the airfield. All
this took about 48 hours, without food and water.
Sadly, her father (a Sqn Ldr), mother and younger
brother are still missing. She is now in the custody
of her father's elder brother.
time passes and some of these men and women write
about their experiences, we will no doubt come
across stories of great courage and sacrifice.
force of the water at Car Nicobar was so great that
all that's left of the first row of houses is the
cement plinth –– no roof, no walls. I don't
think these hapless souls had a chance; they would
have been severely injured or even killed by the
Tsunami wave. Its a sad sad event. Our thoughts and
prayers are always with those who survived and those
who lost their loved ones.
The National Remote
Sensing Agency has uploaded a PPS file (PowerPoint)
that shows the Before and After satellite images of
Car Nicobar Island and its airfield.
Can't Control Nature, But We Can Prepare For The
Telegraph, UK: 28/12/2004)
week's devastating tsunami came as no surprise to
scientists. The quake that triggered the destruction
was just off the western tip of Sumatra in a
geologically violent region where two of the plates
that make up the Earth's surface collide, and where
similar upheavals have been seen before.
The Indian Ocean floor is being pushed under
Eurasia along a long fault line known as a
subduction zone. A few miles beneath the ocean
floor, the plates
slipped violently and abruptly over a 700-mile
stretch, creating a seabed cliff as tall as 10
metres and a tsunami that moved at 560mph. The death
toll in its wake is still rising. Once again,
scientists will ask whether society should do more
to prepare for such rare but catastrophic events.
earthquakes are unpredictable, tsunamis are not. An
internationall warning system in the Pacific was
first considered in 1960, when around
1,000 people died after a tsunami struck
Chile, Hawaii, Japan and elsewhere.
1964, a 9.2-magnitude quake in Alaska triggered a
wave that killed more than 100 people as it swept
down the west coast. Driven by this modest death
toll, relative to the tragedy of the past few days,
the United States and Japan have prepared
evacuations, special construction codes for coastal
buildings and shoreline embankments to lessen the
impact of these waves.
15 minutes of this week's earthquake, scientists
running the Pacific warning system sent an alert to
26 participating countries, including Thailand and
Indonesia, that destructive waves might be
problem is that not all submarine earthquakes make
turn earthquake detection into tsunami prediction,
America uses pressure sensors that sit on the ocean
floor to measure the water column and
any tsunami in the deep ocean. That information is
relayed to a buoy
sends the data via satellite to tsunami warning
centres in Hawaii and Alaska, where computers can
model their threat.
detection system was transferred to the US National
Data Buoy Centre in October 2003. A month later, the
system had its first operational test. A
7.5-magnitude earthquake off the Aleutian Islands
generated a tsunami that led to Alaska issuing a
warning. Importantly, this alert was subsequently
cancelled, based on the buoy information. Hawaii has
had a number of false alarms about pending tsunamis.
These evacuations cost millions in lost
prediction is still a budding science. Much of the
size, direction and speed of a wave is determined by
the contours of the seabed and local topography.
More ocean-bed data collection is needed to make
predictions more accurate. But in southern Asia
there were no tidal gauges, no buoys and thus no
to the epicentre of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake
that triggered the waves of destruction, any warning
given by an alert system would have been too late,
given that the waves move as fast as a jumbo jet. At
best, those on the Sumatran coast would have known
of impending disaster when the sea moved out
abnormally far and fast. That would have given them
as much as 10 minutes to flee.
early warning system still could have saved many
lives. The deadly surge struck southern Thailand
about an hour after the earthquake. After two or so
hours, the torrents had travelled some 1,000 miles
and slammed India and Sri Lanka. At a meeting in
June of the UN's Intergovernmental Oceanographic
Commission, experts concluded that the Indian Ocean
should have a warning network.
problem is that tsunamis as large and destructive as
that seen this week happen only a few times in a
century, a threat that countries find hard to take
seriously. Governments change over much shorter time
scales, undermining the political will to prepare
for such events. And here we are talking about more
other hazards fall into the same huge-but-rare
category. Today's increasingly populous and mobile
world faces a rising threat of pandemics. Despite
the horrors of the 1918 influenza outbreak that
killed some 40 million, politicians seem strangely
unmoved by the threat of a new bird flu strain
called H5N1. The disease could result in 100 million
deaths if the virus responsible adapts to spread
from person to person, according to one World Heath
can do something. An analysis of the 1918 outbreak
by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health
suggests a number of measures to prepare for the
worst, notably stockpiling antiviral drugs in the
Far East, where pandemics originate because of the
proximity of birds and people.
there is the risk of a doomsday asteroid. An impact
equivalent to 10 million tons of TNT, which could
kill millions of people, is thought likely to occur
about once every 1,000 years. The fossil record
suggests there have been several mass extinctions
where impacts may have contributed, notably one
coinciding with the death of the dinosaurs 65
million years ago, and the "great dying"
which wiped out 95 per cent of species - 200 million
years ago. Again, it is possible to warn of
catastrophe and, Bruce Willis capers aside, there
are some serious proposals for a "track and
whack" policy to scan the skies in a systematic
way and avert disaster by diverting or destroying
appliance of science has seen a huge surge in the
Earth's population, lifespan and in the extent of
civilised society. The tsunami has taught us
humility, once again underlining how nature, and not
mankind, is still the real master. The plates that
slide, shift and grind under our feet, the viruses
that multiply in our bodies and objects in orbit are
indifferent to our plight. The chances of a natural
Armageddon might be remote, but the destruction of
human life and impact on modern lifestyles would be
so extreme that we should use science to defend