[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February 2005, 11:01 GMT
Tsunami villagers give thanks to trees

By Sunil Raman
BBC News, Tamil Nadu

In 2002, a village in India's Tamil Nadu state planted 80,244 saplings to enter the Guinness World Records book.

Villagers in Naluvedapathy, Tamil Nadu
Thousands of trees helped break the impact
Little did they realise at the time that the trees would save their lives.

When the tsunami roared into the coast of southern India on 26 December many villages and towns were crushed as the giant waves swept across open beaches.

But the people of Naluvedapathy in Vedaranyam district, south of the Tamil Nadu's worst affected areas around Nagapattinam, remained almost unscathed.


Unlike other coastal areas in Tamil Nadu, Naluvedapathy is shielded by a kilometre-thick tree cover.

Tell others to plant trees
Marimathu, villager
Casuarina, coconut and other varieties of trees have turned the place into a mini-forest.

Walking towards the sea, you can hear the crashing waves but not see them.

Only after walking through a considerable amount of thick vegetation do you reach the Bay of Bengal.

The village has about 600 houses but suffered minimal damage and few deaths. More than 10,000 people were killed in India.

Villagers talk animatedly about how water engulfed the area.

In spite of being located on a higher elevation, the huge waves flooded their homes, paths and farms.

But the thousands of trees helped break the impact.


Nagappan, an old farmer, says the village has always had trees but the numbers increased vastly when the local administration sold the idea to villagers to create a world record three years ago.

Coastal vegetation
The village has a kilometre-thick tree and vegetation cover

"We were saved by these trees. Other coastal villages should also create a tree cover for their safety," he says.

Seventy-year-old Marimathu trembles as she recalls the events of 26 December.

"I was on a hilltop and saw this giant wave come towards the shore... I managed to run to safety but this place was inundated with water."

She adds: "Trees have been planted over a period of time by my grandparents and others. I have been in this village all through my life but this tree cover expanded in the last 15 years.

"Tell others to plant trees," says Marimathu.

A stretch of coast near Kanyakumari with its sandbanks, an area near Nagapattinam with its mangroves and another near Pondicherry with green cover protected some other villagers from the wrath of the tsunami.

But Naluvedapathy had enough protection for the entire village.


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

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific