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Most Andaman tribals safe, claims Government

Wednesday 29 December 2004

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 29. The Government today claimed that the fate of members of two aboriginal tribes - the Shompens and the Sentinelese - was not known while it had been able to establish contact with four other primitive tribes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A special relief package is being prepared by the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry and will be announced soon.

A Tribal Affairs Ministry team will visit the islands for a thorough assessment of the damage caused by Sunday’s tsunami strike.

According to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the fate of the 100-strong Shompens, who live in Campbell Bay, and the Sentinelese, inhabitants of North Sentinel island, is not known. All bridges to these areas have been washed away and the areas have to be surveyed by boats.

The Jarawas, who inhabit the middle Andaman, are unlikely to be affected because they live on hilly terrain and forest areas and the Andamanese live on a bigger landmass, the Strait Island. A Tribal Affairs Ministry spokesperson said that food was being sent to the Andamanese, and 40 or so Onges had been rescued. The Onges - only 100 in number - live in Dugong Creek and efforts are on to trace the others.

However, it is the most prosperous Nicobarese who are believed to have been the most affected. Most of the 26,000-strong community are feared to have been killed.

The Ministry is finalising a relief package to assist the primitive tribes. It is in touch with the local administration to ensure that relief and assistance reaches the six tribal communities in the region.

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