Medical official reports on pattern of shelling inside safe zone

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 April 2009, 02:48 GMT]
"It has become a routine for the makeshift hospital at Puthumaaththa'lan to receive high number of civilian casualties each time after the ICRC ship has transported patients from here, on the same evening or the following day, " observes K. Tharmakulasingam, an administrative officer of Mullaiththeevu Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) Sunday told reporters at the hospital. "The people who come here ask as why they are being attacked within the safe zone," he said after witnessing at least 20 seriously wounded civilians to succumb to their injuries at the hospital Sunday morning alone.

599 civilians succumbed to their injuries or brought dead due to shell and gunfire attacks throughout the month in March, the RDHS officer says. The count includes only the casualty figures of Puthumaaththa'lan hospital. There were many dead bodies that were not brought to the hospital as relatives bury their dead on the spot. The figure doesn't include the casualties registered at other medical or first aid facilities within the safe zone. Around 3,500 wounded civilians were treated at Puthumaaththa'lan makeshift hospital throughout the month of March.

Voice: Interview with Mr. Tharmakulasingam

MP3 AudioDirect Link (mp3)
Even the makeshift ward where wounded women and children were staying didn't escape from the attack. Recently, 9 civilians were killed when shells or RPGs hit the ward of the hospital, several patients and workers were wounded, Tharmakulasingam says.

The medical employees and volunteers at the hospital were only relieved for two days with minimum number of admittance of the wounded. But, there are heavy casualties again today, he says.

Hospital staff have gone on streets, begging for blood from civilians who are already suffering from malnutrition and hunger. There are no vegetables available. Only a few white pumpkins were available.

Recently, the hospital received limited amounts of 9 types of medicines, he says. These are not enough to look after the health care of the people. Even the conservative estimates here put the number of civilians camped in the so-called no fire zone at more than 250,000. But, supplies are not enough to cater for them.

There are mothers unable to find milk to feed their babies turning up at the hospital to get milk.

The medical officer said the hospital had to receive also cases of children who died at the hospital after suffering loose motion following the intake of different type of milk than what was needed by them.


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