The eye of the storm
Bala Karunakaran went to Kilinochchi Hospital in northern Sri Lanka to help set up a maternity operating clinic and research how the region had been affected by civil war but found himself in the midst of a huge emergency relief operation. He shares his experiences of the tsunami
We headed to the hospital in the early morning. We saw many Tamil Tiger rebels walking around with walkie-talkies and stiff faces. We approached and inquired further about it. A rebel commander told us that he had heard reports of the sea coming into villages and promised to keep us updated. We did not think much of it. I thought a lot of property would have been destroyed and felt sorry for the people, but we could not imagine the extent of this tragedy.
By 8 am, we were getting reports that the tragedy was far worse. The rebels were rushing people to hospital in buses, lorries, and on motorbikes. Many were pronounced dead on arrival. The outpatient department was overfull, and we got reports that the situation was only the tip of the iceberg and that a lot more people were coming. Soon the hospital was teeming with people.