Eight years after a tsunami struck the Tamil Nadu coast killing thousands, fear of the unknown continues to raise its head if and when there is news of a possible disaster. This time, in Nagapattinam district, many felt that the world was coming to an end on December 21 — based on a Mayan calendar prediction.
“There was an unknown fear in the days preceding December 21. Even children used to ask whether the world would come to an end,” said N. Dhanalakshmi of NGO Social Need Education and Human Awareness.
On December 26, 2004, a devastating tsunami triggered by an undersea quake off Sumatra in Indonesia hit Tamil Nadu’s coast in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Chennai and Kanyakumari.
The waves claimed around 8,000 lives — children, women and men. Some 6,100 died in Nagapattinam alone. Over 2.3 lakh were killed in the tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and the Maldives.
Expectedly, fishermen along Tamil Nadu’s winding coast ventured into the sea with reluctance on December 21 this year. “Parents were also reluctant to send their children to schools that day due to tsunami fears. I had to comfort many parents to send their wards to school,” pre-school teacher S Lakshmi said.
“The fear was intense. Many children did not eat properly the previous day,” added a Valarmathi, who works with an NGO. “We have seen tsunami... slowly fear crept in,” said Roopa, a Class XII student in Annai Sathya orphanage.
In March last year, TV visuals of a tsunami in Japan reminded people in Tamil Nadu of that fateful day in 2004. Ahead of the tsunami’s eighth anniversary, the doomsday prediction for December 21 rekindled people’s dormant fears.