ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Are Earthquake Deaths Overestimated?

Assesment for Kutch Villages

There is some reason to believe that the number of earthquakerelated deaths in Kutch may be lower than the first estimates.

The January 26 earthquake along with the large-scale devastation has created much confusion and controversy about the number of people who have died on the day under the rubble. The total number of deaths in Gujarat estimated by different sources vary from 15,000 to even 1 lakh. The widespread nature of the devastation and the delay in clearing the debris especially in the major towns has made it really difficult to arrive at any realistic estimation about the number of deaths. While all the attention is focused on major towns like Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Bachchau and Anjar there is no clear information available about the extent of loss of life in the villages, particularly in Kutch which has suffered major devastation. There are fears that the deaths in villages are equally high and the final figure may be a staggering one. Partly the attempt to sensationalise the impact by some section of the media is also to be blamed for the confusion.

As a member of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB)-led team from Anand distributing milk and milk powder to quake hit people of Kutch, I got an opportunity to tour in some of the worst-affected villages. The insights gathered during the discussions we had with the affected people in these villages were quite revealing in terms of the death statistics. While so much confusion surrounds death statistics in the cities, surprisingly a clear picture was emerging from the villages.

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