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Cellular Jail's wall damaged in Dec 26 quake

By Subhra Priyadarshini in Port Blair
January 10, 2005 14:15 IST
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The December 26 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia, which triggered the killer tsunami and whose after shocks were felt in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, crumbled a major portion of the Cellular Jail's wall in the Union Territory's capital Port Blair.

About a 20-metre stretch of a 15-inch thick stone wall, which once skirted the left wing of the jail built in 1906, lies in rubble today as a witness to the intensity of one of the worst natural disasters in recent times.

The jail, where freedom fighters were put during colonial rule and considered a pilgrimage centre for patriots, wears a deserted look.

"This is peak season [for tourism] and in any other year we [would] have [had] thousands of tourists around this time. Now we hardly have 40-50 people a day," P Ganesh, the ticket counter attendant, said.

The quakes have also resulted in cracks to the jail's cells, gallows, exhibition galleries and the central tower. The galleries, which have a wealth of information on freedom fighters and interesting nuggets like the first passport photo of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose taken in 1919 to his last one, have developed huge cracks.

The newly constructed museum, inaugurated just last year on the jail's premises, also bears signs of the disaster, which has changed the face of the islands completely.

Officer-in-charge Rashida said she had submitted a detailed report of the damages to the territory administration for restoration of the historically important building.


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Subhra Priyadarshini in Port Blair
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