- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

PORT BLAIR, India — As she fled the killer waves swallowing her island, Namita Roy gave birth to a boy in a forest.

On another island, 8-month-old Michael Jeremiah slipped out of his mother’s arms and sank into the sea until his father saw his toe poke up from the waves and brought him back to life.

The babies’ tales from the Andaman and Nicobar islands will become part of the folklore of miraculous survivals of last Sunday’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunamis.

“It’s all God’s grace,” said Lakshmi Narayan Roy, 34, a rickshaw puller whose wife, Namita, delivered their baby in the forest on Hut Bay island, where they were taking shelter.

Mr. Roy had just made tea for his wife, who was expecting her baby on Jan. 15. Then the Earth shook, and Mr. Roy raced out of the house with his pregnant wife and their 6-year-old son, Saurabh.

Mr. Roy put his wife on his bicycle rickshaw and began lugging her uphill. Minutes later, Mr. Roy’s home was flattened, like hundreds of others on the island.

Hours later, as they and some 700 people hunkered down on the highest point of the island, in the dark forest, Mrs. Roy began having pains.

Just after 4 a.m. on Monday, the Roys’ baby as born — a second son — with the help of a nurse who also had fled the tsunami.

But the jungle delivery was crude, and Mrs. Roy had lost a lot of fluid. They went down the hill on the rickshaw, this time with the new family member in tow, to a medical center. There, a navy officer alerted a ship.

But the tsunami had smashed the jetties and the ship couldn’t get to shore. Mr. Roy and his friends lifted the new mother above their heads and carried her through the waist-deep water, while another friend followed with the baby.

In a Port Blair hospital, a doctor named the boy Tsunami.

“I like the name. I won’t change it,” said Namita Roy, swaddling her son in a towel.

“I will remember that day forever,” Lakshmi Roy said. “I am sure he will fight with me when he grows up, though, for giving him a feminine name.”

Hundreds of miles south, on the island of Chowra, coconut-plantation owner Jeremiah, his wife, Safra, teenage daughter Lilian, and 8-month-old Michael were on their way to church in their village of Kuitasuli.

“We had planned we would all pray together. But suddenly, the Earth started shaking,” said Safra who, like her husband, uses a single name. They all started running, but the tsunami had ripped up the road running along the coast.

Safra, who recounted her ordeal from the Govind Vallabh Pant Hospital in Port Blair, stumbled and fell on top of her son.

Suddenly, they found themselves floating in the water, helplessly being flung toward debris, hurtling past furniture and TVs . Safra, exhausted, said she lost her grip on Michael and watched in horror as he drifted away.

Another wave came and Michael sank below the surface.

“We wanted to die as well, just flow away with the water,” Safra said.

Then, her husband yelled: “The toe. The toe.” Jeremiah lunged forward and grabbed his son’s toe, and lifted him up.

All three survived to rejoin other family members.

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