Jungle-dwellers helped injured survive

Michael Paul survived for two days in the jungle, despite being unable to walk. He lived on coconuts and sweet potatoes and drank coconut water. Aboriginal inhabitants of the island showed him and his fellow Indian police officers how to live off the fruits of the jungle.

As survivors are rescued from India's remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, extraordinary stories are beginning to emerge of how they clung to life on islands where all traces of modern civilisation had been wiped out by the tsunami.

Constable Paul was one of six Indian police officers serving a three-month tour of duty on the island of Chowra, which was home to about 1,500 people. More than 900 are still missing.

"When the wave hit, the wall of the building I was in collapsed on me," Constable Paul. "The wave went 3km in to the jungle from the coast, but when it drew out to sea the force lifted the wall back off me. As I was dragged out to sea I grabbed hold of a tree and it saved me."

Constable Paul was badly injured, his hip smashed and his face and body grazed raw. Fellow officers got him into the jungle but they had no link to the outside world. "I didn't even have any clothes," Constable Paul said. "My clothes were dragged off me by the sea."

The officers had no idea how to survive in the jungle, but locals helped. "They have these sweet potatoes that grow naturally in the jungle. I had never eaten them before, but the tribal people showed us how to get them. You eat them raw."

Finally, two days later, Constable Paul was evacuated by helicopter to Port Blair, the capital of the Andamans, where he is being treated in hospital.

The Indian government's claims that the death toll in the Andamans and Nicobars could be as low as 3,000 are looking more and more hollow. More than 10,000 people are unaccounted for on the island of Car Nicobar alone. One aid worker said he believed the real death toll could be as high as 15,000.

Car Nicobar, where several villages were obliterated, has dominated news coverage, but it is not the only affected island. M.T. Naidu told yesterday how he too had to survive for three days in remote jungle on the island of Little Andaman.

Mr Naidu, who as also injured, said: "My wife had to walk 4km through the jungle to fill a little bottle of water and bring it back to us."

Mr Naidu described scenes of devastation on the Hut Bay coast of Little Andaman, where he lived. "For 14km from the coast everything has totally collapsed: buildings, trees, everything," he said. "There are 7,000 people still there in the hills, waiting to be rescued.

"I have lived in Little Andaman for 30 years but tomorrow I am going back to the mainland. I had a good life, I had a good house, a TV - now it's all gone, in two minutes."

On another ward a boy lies wrapped tightly in a blanket. Hilary, who is 14 years old, and his brother were with his mother on Car Nicobar. His father was working on another island, and an elder brother in Port Blair.

Hilary's mother and brother died when the tsunami hit Car Nicobar. Running away, he broke his leg on a rock but he clung to a coconut palm as the wave wrought destruction all around. He clung to it for hour after hour - he is not sure how long, but says he was still holding on to the tree in the evening, although the tsunami hit in the morning.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Physics Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Secondary teachers required for supply roles in Sudbury

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary teachers re...

Senior Marketing Executive (B2C, Offline) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successfully con...

Marketing Executive (B2C, Offline) - Wimbledon, SW London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An established and highly...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style