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Tuesday, December 27, 2011 (07:53:06)
Tags : Tsunami, Tamil Nadu, Tsunami Seventh Anniversary, Akkaraipettai, Keechankuppam

Tsunami's 7th anniversary observed in Tamil Nadu

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Chennai, Dec 27: People of Akkaraipettai and Keechankuppam in Tamil Nadu's Nagapattinam district on Monday observed the seventh anniversary of the fateful day of Dec 26, 2004, when a tsunami swept away thousands of their relatives, neighbours and friends.

The anniversary of the catastrophe was made more poignant by the news of 22 people drowning in a lake near here on Sunday afternoon in a boat accident.

On Dec 26, 2004, the tsunami, triggered by an undersea quake off the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, hit the Tamil Nadu coast killing around 8,000 people in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Chennai and Kanyakumari.

"The boat accident reminded us of the tsunami and our escape. Today is my seventh birthday," Raghupathy Vaidyanathan, an executive in a software company who survived the wave, told the media.

Agreeing that the boat accident reminded him of the tsunami, V.Kumaravelu of Akkaraipettai recalled to the media his escape from the clutches of deathe. "I was at a fish landing centre when I became wonder struck watching a wall of sea rising. There were many like me who watched the spectacle. But better sense prevailed and we started running away. I ran like anything and climbed a wall to safety."

Fishermen on the other side of the wall stopped their boats and escaped and those who were near the shore were caught by the wave, added Kumaravelu, an advisor to the Bay of Bengal Fish Worker Union.

He said it took him around one year to recover from the tsunami impact.

"Nearly 50 percent of the 6,065 people who died in Nagapattinam district belonged to Akkaraipettai and Keechankuppam fishing villages," Kumaravelu said.

The giant wave has etched a permanent scar in the hearts of the people who survived it.

On Monday, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives in the tsunami held silent rallies and special worships in tearful homage to the victims.

At Akkaraipettai, state Fisheries Minister K.A. Jayapal led a procession of around 2,000 people and in Keechankuppam, member of parliament A.K.S.Vijayan led a procession, Kumaravelu said.

He said a "jyothi" (earthen lamp) was lit at the mass burial site where a memorial pillar has been constructed at Akkaraipettai.

As a mark of respect to the departed souls, fishermen in Nagapattinam district did not venture into the seas and shops downed their shutters.

In Cuddalore, the tsunami memory pillar was adorned with flowers.

Across the state, relatives of those who fell victim to the tsunami offered milk and flowers at the sea in homage to the departed souls. (IANS)