Roads Play Key Role in Tsunami Survival

India suffered severe damage and casualties during the December 2004 tsunami. In the coastal district of Tamil Nadu, almost 8,000 deaths were reported. This article describes Tamil Nadu's tsunami experience and how roads helped increase survival rates in India's coastal communities. Although some bridges and roads close to the sea were washed way, in general the region's roads were not too badly affected by the tsunami. The availability of road and bridge access proved to play an essential role in helping inhabitants escape the tsunami, especially those in the coastal fishing villages. In one district, people close to the sea were able to escape because of good road links, while 500m inland, inhabitants were trapped because there were no roads out of the village and boats could not be used on the surging backwaters. Over 3,000 people died in an area where a bridge, providing the sole exit route, had been blocked by boats and debris. Because of the lessons learned in this disaster, the state is now looking at how increased connections to villages by roads and bridges could help to mitigate the effects of future disasters. Locations are being identified where small new bridges are needed across the backwaters to provide or increase available escape routes.


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  • Accession Number: 01003855
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 1 2005 11:03PM