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India's poor face grim rebuilding task after cyclone
by Staff Writers
Gopalpur, India (AFP) Oct 15, 2013

Cargo ship sinks in S.Korea: coastguard
Seoul (AFP) Oct 15, 2013 - A cargo ship sank off the coast of South Korea late Tuesday with all 19 crew members missing, the coastguard said.

Rescuers have been unable to reach the 8,461-tonne Panama-flagged vessel due to stormy weather conditions in the southeastern port of Pohang.

"High waves and a strong wind are hampering an operation by coastguard officials," a South Korea coastguard spokesman told AFP.

China's state media reported that 18 of the 19 crew members were Chinese and the ship's captain had died, citing the Chinese Consulate General in the South Korean city of Busan.

The other crew member was Vietnamese, China's official news agency Xinhua said.

The ship, the CHENGLU15, is owned by China's Lishen International Shipping Group Corporation, Xinhua reported, and had run into trouble on Tuesday afternoon after an anchor problem.

It sank during a storm after six hours in Pohang's Yingri Harbour, Xinhua said.

The Chinese Consulate General had sent a team of four staff to help the rescue effort and called for South Korea to make all-out efforts to rescue the crew, the agency added.

Sitting on a wall of his collapsed one-room house in eastern India, B. Chinnaya reflects on the devastation that Cyclone Phailin wrought on his once vibrant fishing village.

"I built this house with my own hands, with my own hard earned money," Chinnaya said as he tried to replace the tin roof.

"When I came back to the village, I couldn't help but break down into tears. All that hard work got washed away," he said.

Chinnaya was among the one million residents from across Orissa and neighbouring states who fled to shelters on Saturday to escape the ferocious storm which uprooted trees, mangled power powers and flattened homes.

While the biggest evacuation in Indian history was hailed for minimising loss of life, already poor fishermen and farmers have returned to their villages this week to discover the few possessions they had have been destroyed.

With both of his small, wooden fishing boats snapped in half by the cyclone's storm surge and powerful winds, and no savings to repair them, Chinnaya was blunt about his future.

'No boat, no fish'

"No boat means no fish. No fish, no money," Chinnaya told AFP in Gopalpur village, in the heart of the cyclone zone.

"God had something against me, I think, else he wouldn't have done this" he added.

Some 500,000 homes were partially or completely destroyed in the hardest-hit district of Ganjam which includes Gopalpur village, officials said. Livelihoods including small businesses have also been wrecked, while inland, crops were flooded.

Tarpaulins and plastic sheets were being distributed to those in need, along with basic food and water as part of a major relief operation under way across the region, officials said.

At a school in Gopalpur, dozens of children sat in lines, eating rice and lentils served on giant banana-leaf plates.

"I like eating here. The food is very good," said Santoshi Sahas, 11.

"I don't have an option really because we don't have a kitchen at home anymore, no food," she added.

The local municipality started stockpiling food after weather officials warned the cyclone, India's biggest in 14 years, was barreling towards them from across the Bay of Bengal. A local official said there was enough food to feed 2,000 people for another 10 days.

Planning pays off

"We started stocking up a good four days in advance and it really paid off," said Ashok Kumar Panda, the head of the local municipality.

"Everyone is getting food, the kids are fed without fail while their parents repair their homes and then the parents eat. We will continue feeding them until everything becomes normal," Panda said.

But he admitted power would not be restored to the area for another three weeks, perhaps longer. And residents fear little or no government compensation to help them start over.

Santosh Behra, 45, said he was unsure where he would find the 100,000 rupees ($1,624) he estimates he needs to repair his small store and brick home, after the cyclone ripped off the thatched roof.

"When I came back (from a shelter), most of the goods in my store were destroyed," Behra told AFP.

"Soaked in water, all the dry foods went bad. I opened the door and all the branches and mud came floating out on me," said Behra, adding that he had not eaten in four days.

"The question is how will I get everything fixed? I don't have money and the government is nowhere in sight when we need some help," he said.


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