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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Glou...

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain