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Monday, 29 January, 2001, 16:05 GMT
E-mail: The day the earth shook
Man carries his daughter to hospital, Ahmedabad
People streamed to the hospital after the quake
Among the hundreds of e-mails received by BBC News Online about the Gujarat earthquake was one from Vivek Iyer, a doctor in the city of Ahmedabad. This is his account of the day the quake struck, forwarded by his brother Vikram in the United States:

Dear Viki,

Boy, what a day it was! Here is how it began. As it was the Republic Day, we had a holiday in the hospital and so I had my morning rounds late at 9.30.


People from all over Ahmedabad started streaming to the hospital with the dead and the injured

I was just getting ready to get up and suddenly felt that a large group of monkeys or some small kids were running around in the terrace because the roof was shaking and the room was shaking too.

I thought that this was normal with these old buildings but the shakings just didn't stop and became more severe.

It was then that I suspected something big on the lines of an earthquake or something. But I just couldn't believe it because Ahmedabad had never been hit by one.

My second thought was that war had broken out and maybe an atom bomb had been dropped.

You must remember that this was the Republic Day and unprecedented security arrangements had been made for the celebrations. The threat of a terrorist strike was very real.

However my suspicion of a bomb soon disappeared because there was no accompanying flash of light.

Hospital scene

When I looked out of the window, birds were circling the sky like crazy and it was then that things looked dangerous.


It was a scene out of a nightmare. Lines and lines of young men, all dead within minutes of the quake

After a few more seconds of shaking, it became more intense and the fridge started shaking badly.

I cannot describe the shaking to you. Just imagine how you would feel if someone very powerful took hold of your house and started shaking it right from the foundation. That's how it felt here.

After about a minute or so the shaking stopped and I came out of the room to find that people had already run out of the building and I was one of the last ones there.

I ran to the hospital. The tremors in the hospital were more severe because it is a four-storey structure.

The events which followed in the next two hours will remain etched in my mind.

People from all over Ahmedabad started streaming to the hospital with the dead and the injured. People came in dozens carrying their relatives.

Most of them were victims of building collapses and were dead on arrival. Many had spinal cord injuries and head injuries.

Most of the dead were between 25-35 - such a tragic loss.


I have written my name as a volunteer and will leave whenever called

The emergency room soon was overflowing with doctors from all departments and patients. It was a chaotic scene and then we started arranging all the dead bodies in a line.

It was the kind of scene that you see only on TV. It was a scene out a nightmare. Lines and lines of young men, all dead within minutes of the quake. Many were children.

I don't want to describe anything more than this.

Nothing much is happening here except for the teams that are leaving for Bhuj from the hospital. I have written my name as a volunteer and will leave whenever called.

Don't worry about any of us here. We have been lucky, by God's grace.

Take care of yourself, and keep e-mailing.

Vivek.

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