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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 15:36 GMT
India tsunami costs 'hit $1.6bn'
Aid distribution in Devanah Pattinam, India
The federal government has set $113m for immediate relief
India has raised the cost of the tsunami to $1.6bn on its mainland alone, with reports of another $600m on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Compensation payouts are expected to top one billion rupees ($22.8m).

Indians have donated more than three billion rupees into the Prime Minister's relief fund alone.

The death toll in India was raised on Friday to 9,995, with another 5,689 missing - 5,592 of those in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

India's federal government has set aside $113m for relief operations to add to the donations and other funds from NGOs and the states.

Other countries have come to realise that India can now stand on its own
DH Pai Panandikar, economist

India's economy recorded growth of 8.2% last year with up to 6.5% expected this year.

Analysts believe the tsunami will not slow that significantly and that the economy is strong enough to cope.

Economic analyst Saumitra Chowdhary told the AFP news agency: "We have come a long way since the time when India would always stand with a begging bowl in hand when a natural calamity would strike."

Stock markets have not been significantly affected by the disaster.


India raised its death toll on Friday but officials fear most of those who survived have now been found and that the missing, particularly on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, should be presumed dead.

Boy from Andaman and Nicobar islands
Tamil Nadu - 7,941
Pondicherry - 583
Kerala - 170
Andhra Pradesh - 105
Andaman Islands - 1,196
Missing: Andamans 5,592; Elsewhere 97
Source: Home ministry

India sent in commandos on Friday to the primitive Campbell Bay island to try to contact the Shompen tribe which has not been seen since the tsunami.

The Shompens number around 400 and have little contact with the outside world.

Lt Gen BS Thakur said: "We are winching down the commandos wherever smoke is rising from the forests... sadly contact with the Shompens has not been possible."

Elsewhere in the Andamans, one island had a miraculous escape when a local used knowledge of tsunamis gained from watching National Geographic TV programmes to save hundreds of people.

Abdul Razzak, who works in the port control tower on Teressa Island, realised the danger after the earthquake struck.

"I instantly said, 'Oh lord, tsunamis are coming'."

Mr Ali and a neighbour yelled at people to take to higher ground.

After the waves struck, there was no help for five days and islanders survived on coconuts and rice from a warehouse.

Measles fears

The United Nations children's agency, Unicef has become the first international aid organisation to begin operating in the Andamans.

Unicef is vaccinating children on the island of Car Nicobar where thousands are believed to have died.

For more than a week some aid agencies have criticised officials for refusing them permission to operate on Car Nicobar where 15,000 people are in camps after surviving the disaster and many thousands more are missing.

Unicef officials are worried about an epidemic of measles but say they are confident they can do enough to prevent an outbreak.

They say most children they have seen on the island are in good health.

Other aid agencies, such as Medecins Sans Frontier, are still hoping to get permission to operate in the islands.


On the Indian mainland, amateur relief workers, dubbed "disaster tourists" have been warned that they may be doing more harm than good.

AID-India volunteer Ravi Shankar said: "They are coming in large numbers, with loads of loads of relief material but no idea as to what they need to do.

"We need as many people as we can get, but they have to come with a proper understanding of what they have to do and face."

In the mainland's worst-hit area, Nagappattinam, locals unaffected by the tsunami have been preying on aid supplies intended for real victims.

Poor villagers are telling stories of devastated villages and lost loved ones to get their hands on relief supplies.

One farmer told AFP: "These are hard times for people in this district. They started giving away clothes and I took plenty. Rice and other supplies followed."


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