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NEW DELHI (AFP) – Tsunami-hit India struggled to get the right relief supplies to the most needy people as a flood of aid poured in from across the country where nearly 13,000 died, rescue workers and residents said.
India has mounted its biggest-ever peace-time relief operation with more than 4,000 troops deployed at home and aid shipped also to neighbouring nations Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
However, the abundance of equipment and goods sent to some areas in worst-hit southern India was such th hat bundles of clothes lay heaped on street corners and food went to waste in some places while in other places people queued hours for a paltry meal.
“What is happening is that a lot of smaller voluntary agencies are coming here with supplies of clothes and other materials which are really not required,” said Geetanjali Master, United Nations (news – web sites) Children’s Fund (UNICEF (news – web sites)) communications officer in Tamil Nadu state’s Nagapattinam.
Relief workers Sunday said an ap ppeal by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had struck a chord across the one billion population, but poor communication meant required items such as warm blankets, pillows and bedsheets were not being donated.
Stacks of food were also being sent from va

arious regions, but poor south Indians, used to a staple diet of rice and fish, were not able to eat it.
The Hindustan Times was one of several papers to complain that aid was only trickling in because of a lack of coordination which also saw rice packets strewn across the roads.
Irate villagers in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari area were so angry with the delay in the arrival of help that they mobbed a top district official’s car and threw away some of the food.
“I have extensively toured the affected areas in Tamil Nadu. The government machinery was conspicuous by its absence in many areas,” said Vaiko, general secretary of the influential regional MDMK political party.
Tamil Nadu chief mi inister Jayaram Jayalalitha dismissed the charges and said the administrative machinery was responding well, considering the enormity of the task.
In an effort to assist, information technology giant IBM Corp has been among several firms to send experts to Tamil Nadu’s worst-hit Nagapattinam district to try to bolster management of relief materials and direct their flow.
“This system will map the data on a matrix to ensure that demand for relief materials and their supply match each other,” said Vivek Ha
arinarain, a zonal relief commissioner.
A government website said only a third of around 1,000 tonnes of relief material collected for India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were badly battered by the tsunami, had been delivered.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands airport was so choked with rescue materials that piles of stuff lay heaped on both sides of the runway, witnesses said.
The federal Indian government Saturday set up a separate coordinated relief command for the islands after a week of difficulties.
India has declined aid from other nations saying it can cope on its own.
Fear of epidemics remains strong as media reports said dead bodies were floating off the Nicobar Islands, creating conditions for the spread of a local virulent strand of the killer cholera virus.

The islands’ administration Sunday sent an urgent SOS to health workers to report back for duty amid fears of epidemics on the islands where bodies still lie rotting under debris.
Hundreds of health personnel fled their posts when tidal waves crashed into the remote tropical chain on December 26, wrecking the modest medical infrastructure.
“In view of the emergent situation as well as chances of outbreak of epidemic diseases at various islands, it is very mu

uch necessary that the staff strength of all the hospitals should be strengthened to render aid to the earthquake and tsunami affected persons,” the government order said.
“The stench tells us that there are many bodies under the rubble,” said Lieutenant General B.S. Thakur, head of the relief command on the islands.

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