[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 31 December, 2004, 13:15 GMT
Tamil Tigers grapple with disaster

By Jeremy Bowen
BBC News, Mullaitivu

A Tamil Tiger walks away from a funeral pyre in Mullaitivu
A Tamil Tiger walks away from a funeral pyre in Mullaitivu
Little information has emerged from parts of Sri Lanka controlled by the rebel Tamil Tigers following Sunday's tsunami.

The BBC gained access to the village of Mullaitivu in the north-east of the island.

Tamil Tiger rebels here say that more than 3,000 people died in Mullaitivu - that is out of a population of more than 5,000.

Buildings on the beach were completely flattened by the waves. There is almost nothing left standing.

The front of the church is still in place, but not the rest of it.

Tamil Tiger leaders here have organised groups of young rebels to pick up most of the bodies.

The bodies are rotting badly.

Putrefying flesh

They are locating corpses by smell and burning them on the spot.

We went at least one mile (1.6km) inland where we saw people taking bodies out of a paddy field, lining them up and then burning them.

By Thursday evening the sky above Mullaitivu was black with the smoke of funeral pyres.

The predominant smell was a mixture of wood smoke and putrefying burned flesh.

Survivors have been taken to camps in schools and other public buildings.

The local Roman Catholic priest, Father Anansha Kumar, told me that 95% of the people in this area are Catholics.

"Isn't it a shame they are not getting Christian burials?" I asked.

Reflecting on the fears for public health he replied: "I don't think the Lord is very fussy about this."

Father Anansha fears survivors will never return because of the trauma they have experienced.

Organised operation

The ruins in Mullaitivu are eerily empty, apart from the people collecting bodies.

Recovering bodies in Mullaitivu
Bodies have been found a mile inland

Packs of dogs run free as well as other domestic animals that survived the floods.

You get the impression that the clean-up operation is very organised.

The Tigers are planning to chlorinate wells and spray disinfectant around.

I also met the headman of another nearby village.

He said there were 2,012 people living in his village before Sunday. Of those about 1,100 had been killed by the waters he told me.

Freelance aid deliveries from well-wishers have been coming in.

One lorry-load of supplies came from beyond Tamil Tiger-controlled territory, from a Sinhala village in the south of the country.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific