Campbell Bay, January 27:
For 25 days after the tsunami killed everyone else on his island, Michael Mangal roamed the expanse in just his underwear, waiting for death and praying for life, thinking of the spirits that scared him and the woman who never loved him.
One day, he heard the chugging of a distant motor boat. He took off his underwear and began waving to the men who would rescue him, dazed and naked. The 40-year-old Nicobarese tribesman was rescued eight days ago from Pillowpanja island. Every other islander was washed away. â€œI thought I would die, and worse than that, I would die all alone,â€ the coconut farmer said yesterday in his first interview. â€œI found a Bible and each evening I read it and prayed,â€ said Mangal, speaking through a translator.
Mangal, a Christian like many Nicobarese, is being treated for a leg injured by a falling tree and stomach ailments. He spoke with long pauses, often forgetting facts or staring vacantly.
â€œThe water scooped me up,â€ he said. â€œIt threw me back to Pillowpanja. When I came to, there was no one. I looked everywhere,â€ he said. â€œI couldnâ€™t see any living man.â€ It was hard to recognise his island. â€œSuddenly, I realized I was all alone on the island. All were dead.â€
Nearby lived the woman whom heâ€™d loved. Even with her gone, he wonâ€™t give away her name. â€œI thought of her,â€ he said of his days alone on the island.
The nights frightened him. Mangal found a large knife, to cut coconuts and chop wood. He made a bed from planks hacked from a betel tree. He roamed and slept, then sat by the beach in the evenings and prayed. Days passed, then weeks. No ship came, no rescue boat. There was only silence.â€
At last, a passing motorboat picked him up.
Quake in Nicobar:
HONG KONG: An earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter Scale hit Indiaâ€™s Nicobar Islands on Thursday morning, reports Xinhua, quoting the Hong Kong Observatory. The quake hit the islands at 1:36 am, the observatory said. Another quake measuring 6.1 hit Indonesiaâ€™s Sumatra Island at 6:06 am on Thursday. The epicentre of the quake was recorded at the west coast of northern Sumatra. â€” HNS