The tsunami's toll continues rising. The real number may never be known. Apart from human life, some valuable natural habitats have also been destroyed. Among these are the Andaman Islands. These islands form a scenic archipelago that was the site of the dreaded Black Water or Kala Pani prison in the British Empire, where many went and few returned. Some highly endangered species of fauna also existed here, including two primitive tribes, the Great Andamanese and the Shompen. From the Times of India
Officials involved in rescue operations are pessimistic, but still keeping their fingers crossed for the Sentinelese and Nicobarese, the two tribes seen as bearing the brunt of the killer wave.
The bigger fear is for the Sentinelese, anthropologically the most important tribe, living on the flat North Sentinel Island. Putting their population at about 100, officials say no body count is possible as the tribe had remained isolated. The Nicobarese, numbering about 25,000, are also feared to have suffered major losses, if not near -extinction. Clustered in 12 villages along the coast of Car Nicobar, the worst affected, it is feared nearly half of them could have been engulfed by the giant wave.
Sunday’s devastating tsunami, which obliterated seaside towns in nine countries, may have wiped away a piece of history too. Two of world’s most endangered tribes — Great Andamanese and Shompen — are feared to have perished in the tidal waves as they ripped apart India’s Emerald Necklace and ravaged the tribal settlements on the tiny islands of Andaman & Nicobar.
Already on the verge of extinction, the primitive Great Andamanese of the Negrito and Shompen of the Mongoloid racial stocks are listed under Scheduled Tribes and numbered just 39 and 150 respectively in the last count. Perhaps, the last remnants of the oldest human population of Asia and Australia may have been lost forever.