Feature Article

Destroyed bridges, causeways compound relief crisis in east

[TamilNet, Sunday, 02 January 2005, 07:40 GMT]
The Sunday Tsunami has left the main road network of the east and southeast coast of Sri Lanka in tatters, leaving many areas still marooned and hindering relief and rescue work, Col. Bhanu, a senior commander of the Liberation Tigers who is directing urgent humanitarian operations in the region, told TamilNet Saturday. He deplored that helicopters are being used to show Sri Lankan government leaders the disaster in the east and to take photos.

“In the south, helicopters drop food and rescue people affected by the Tsunami. Yet there was no way to rescue even seriously injured people from several areas marooned by the Tsunami in Batticaloa and Amparai.

He said that LTTE’s engineering units are repairing some causeways and roads destroyed by the Tsunami to expedite rescue and relief operations. But two major bridges on the southeastern coast are seriously damaged and require urgent attention he said.

Col.Bhanu“Whenever we destroyed bridges or causeways during the war the Sri Lanka army had the wherewithal to quickly repair them or it fixed the problem fast with pontoon and prefabricated bridges. We are sure that they still have the necessary equipment to repair the bridges and causeways damaged or destroyed by the Tsunami. But Sri Lanka army is not using their know-how and the equipment to help our people afflicted by this natural disaster. This is very deplorable”.

Extracts from the Interview given to TamilNet by Col. Bhanu, Special Commander of the LTTE in Batticaloa-Amparai.
Listen to Extracts >>


Neelavanai
Neelavanai roads dug out by the Tsunami waves

Onthachimadam
Roads blocked at Onthachimadam

“Our engineer units are making temporary repairs to causeways in Periyakallar, Thampattai and Komari and the sections of the main coastal road wiped out by the waves in Periyaneelavanai and Kurukkalmadam. People are stranded in places like Komari and Urani because roads and causeways in these remote places are destroyed. It is difficult to take relief supplies to these people, transport the sick, clear the debris etc., No one is making any effort to get the road system back in some order. We do not have enough heavy vehicles and equipment to satisfactorily repair all the causeways, bridges, and roads”, Col. Bhanu said.

Batticaloa
East Coast Map
Click here for an enlarged view of the East Coast
Navalady
LTTE rescue operations under the supervision of Col. Banu recovering a body at Navalady
Navalady
Removing debris in Navalady
Kurukkalmadam
Roads flooded at Kurukkalmadam
Kallaru
Coastal road at Kallaru destroyed
Amparai
Kallaru-bridge hit by Tsunami
Kallaru-bridge completely damaged when it was hit by tsunami
Another bridge damaged in Kallaru,Amparai
Another bridge damaged in Kallaru,Amparai
Boats used as Kallaru-bridge is damaged
Boat is used to travel between Batticaloa-Amparai as the Kallaru bridge was damaged by the tsunami waves.
Road damaged in Thirukkovil,Amparai
Road damaged in Thirukkovil,Amparai
“The Tsunami has destroyed the Arugambay Bridge. This is a big bridge across the Pottuvil lagoon’s main estuary and is very close to the sea. A section of the bridge was knocked out by the Tsunami. This is not easy to repair. It is a big job. A large number of Muslim settlements along the coast south of this bridge are stranded. We are unable to reach the villages of Ullai, Navalaaru, Panama and the ancient Murgan temple on the rock by the sea in Ukandai. We know that Ullai, a famous tourist area has been completely wiped out. It is very urgent that we repair the Arugambay Bridge”, Bhanu said.

He said that the few settlers and the priest around the Ukandai temple could have been killed. Reaching the temple is well nigh impossible he added, saying that the dirt track to Okandai would have been badly mauled by the Tsunami in places where it hugs the coast.

“The Oluvil Bridge too is destroyed. It is an important link on the southeastern costal artery. This is too is a big bridge. Taking relief supplies to the areas south of Kalmunai would be greatly impeded if some temporary repairs are made to this bridge”, Bhanu said.

The Oluvil Bridge is also known as Kaliyodai Paalam, over the Kaliyodai River. The bridge is situated by the entrance of the Southeastern University.

The vital coastal artery that links Tamil/Muslim towns and villages along the eastern and southeastern has been completely destroyed in some places or partly dug out in other parts. In Kurukkalmadam, the Tsunami has dug the road six feet deep in one place. If nothing is soon done about the partially destroyed parts of this road, the heavy rains that are lashing the region now would wash away whatever is left of it in several important sectors, according to Col. Bhanu.

“Ullai, Komari, Thampattai, 40th Milepost and Periyaneelavanai in the Amparai District coast have been completely destroyed. In other large Tamil villages there like Pandiruppu, Karaithivu, Thambiluvil and Thir ukovil all buidlings, homes and other structures up to 500 metres from the shore have been completely wiped out. There is nothing left. In some places survivors are stranded.”

“In the Batticaloa District, the villages of Ondaatchie Madam, Kurukkal Madam, Navalady, Muhathuvaram, Savukkady, Pasikudah, Kalkudah, Naasivanthivu, Raalodai, Kayankerni, Mankerni and Vakarai have been totally wiped out”, Col. Bhanu said.

Meanwhile, 'Miresh, an LTTE field commander in Batticaloa said that his troops were able to save a large number of people in Kaluvankerni, a coastal village about 20 kilometres north of Batticaloa, because they rushed to the area when they were alerted about the Tsunami within ten minutes of the disaster.

He said that his troops went from Karadiyanaru, about 8 kilometres west of Kaluwankerni.

Navalady
Damaged roadways at Navalady

 

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