Tsunami: City school’s third grader orphaned

DUBAI — Arvind, a grade three student of a city school, is apparently the only survivor of the family of an Indian expatriate working here that had gone for a coveted weak-long vacation to a Sri Lankan beach resort destroyed by Sunday’s killer waves.

By Meraj Rizvi

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Published: Thu 30 Dec 2004, 11:11 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:04 AM

V. Seetharaman, financial controller with P&O Nedloyd, Dubai, and his elder son, Ashwin, were dead, while there was no word about his wife, Prema, according to the information reaching his office. “We are speechless and depressed,” Shahnaz Syed, his office assistant for nine years, told Khaleej Times.

“Only last week he was here in this office, and today, we know that he will no more be among us,” Syed, who received a call from her Colombo office about Seetharaman’s death along with that of another colleague from the company’s Mumbai office.

Seetharaman liked Sri Lanka and this was his second visit to the island country to enjoy his annual holidays, said Syed.

“I have no clue on what will become of the youngest child, the only survivor of the family, since the mother is missing,” she said, hoping the child will find his mother. Arvind is now in the custody of Seetharaman’s relatives, who had rushed there after hearing about the disaster.

“We are shocked to learn about the tragedy,” said Jyothi Franklin, the head of the primary section of the Millennium School, where the siblings studied. Ashwin was a grade seven student of the same school.

“I don’t know how to react. I can clearly recall the parents of the two boys who regularly visited the school. The children were good and were off to Sri Lanka on an annual holiday with their parents and another family from India,” the school official said. The tragedy of Seetharaman’s family is not an isolated case as natural calamities of such magnitude create. Many Sri Lankan expatriates in UAE have either lost their immediate family members or some near and dear friends, relatives, or properties.

Rinza, an official at the Sri Lankan consulate here, rushed to Colombo last night after receiving the news of her brother-in-law being killed by the tidal waves.

“My sister, her husband, two children, their aunt, uncle and their grandson went on a holiday to celebrate Christmas at the Sea Spray Hotel in Hambantota, about six hours by road from Colombo.”

They were out on the beach when their hotel was hit by the tidal waves, said Rinza disclosing her brother in law’s body was recovered. My sister and my 15-year-old nephew survived the disaster and have been evacuated from the hotel. But, my uncle and his seven-year-old grandson are missing.

My relatives from Colombo left for Hambantota immediately after receiving the news, but due to bad roads and bodies strewn all over the roads, theyfound it very difficult to reach the once popular tourist town, Rinza said.

Another Sri Lankan expatriate working as a housemaid in Dubai said she had lost up to 35 members of her extended family residing in the village of Maruthamunai in the eastern province. “My immediate family comprising my parents, two sisters and one brother are safe. But, my mother’s sisters, brothers and their children have all perished in this disaster,” wailed Noor Al Mumtaz.

“I want to go home to my family, but they (my relatives) want me to stay in Dubai as they are in urgent need of money after what has happened.”

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