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Tsunami Relief now reaching Trincomalee district

flood scene six days later
Scenes of devastation at Gopalapuram north of Trincomalee six days after the tsunami struck.
Left: Causeway destroyed leading to Kuchaveli. Right: Flood waters rose to the ceilings and twisted metal fans blades like they were paper.
Mari Amman Kovil, Gopalapuram
Mari Amman Kovil, Gopalapuram, was severely damaged by the tsunami.
Families of tsunami survivors camping in the open
Families of tsunami survivors camping in the open, Gopalapuram
Living Heritage Disaster Relief Director Patrick Harrigan presents Rs. 50,000 (ca. US$500) to Rajendra Swamigal of Sundara Velayudha Swami Kovil for immediate distribution to families affected by the disaster. Gopalapuram, Trincomalee District, 1 January 2005
Kataragama Devotees Trust local organiser Panchavaranam Swami Amma (center) presents a token bottle of drinking water with Rs. 50,000 (ca. US$500) to P. Balachandran, Secretary of Veeracholai Vinayagar Kovil, Kuchaveli, Trincomalee District for immediate distribution to local families affected by the disaster. Living Heritage Disaster Relief Director Patrick Harrigan (left) and community survivors were also present at Kuchaveli on 2 January 2005.

Living Heritage Disaster Relief Director Patrick Harrigan sent this report from Trincomalee on Sri Lanka’s east coast on 1 January 2005.

Relief efforts raised on behalf of communities on the east coast of Sri Lanka devastated by the tsunami are beginning to reach the needy in Trincomalee District as of Saturday 1 January.

A small advance team for disaster relief organized through the Living Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka reached Trincomalee town on the evening of 31 December. The team's mission is to visit as many coastal villages as possible, establish contact with local temples and communities leaders, survey and record the extent of local damage, and determine exact local needs in terms of clothing, medicine, and dry rations, as well as long term recovery and reconstruction efforts.

The Living Heritage advance team is accompanied by correspondent Philip Reeves of American National Public Radio. Reeves has begun filing daily reports for NPR’s 'Morning Edition' including interviews with Living Heritage Disaster Relief Director Patrick Harrigan.

In Trincomalee town the worst destruction has been mainly among the fishing community who live along the beaches, where hundreds have lost their homes and means of livelihood or even their lives in many cases. NPR’s Morning Edition programming will air the interviews beginning Saturday 1 January.

On its first day in the field, the Living Heritage mission visited Gopalapuram, a coastal village just north of Nilaveli. According to Rajendra Swamigal of Murugan Alayam, Gopalapuram, two people died and over 200 people have been left homeless in Gopalapuram alone. The devastation extends several hundred meters inland from the shore. The Mari Amman Kovil directly on the beach, where the Kataragama Pada Yatra foot pilgrims from Jaffna would stay and accept food and hospitality of local fishing folk especially, has been nearly destroyed. An elderly devotee living next to the Kovil, who was long time veteran of the Kataragama Pada Yatra, perished in the tidal wave together with his wife.

Living Heritage Disaster Relief Director Patrick Harrigan presented Rajendra Swamigal of Sundara Velayudha Swami Kovil, Gopalapuram, with Rs. 50,000 (ca. US$500) in cash for immediate distribution to needy families left homeless by the disaster. These cash grants are intended to help specific communities to fill the gap during the first critical days and weeks until larger scale relief begins to arrive.

The Swamigal and devotees have agreed to compile a detailed list of their community's specific needs. Living Heritage Trust and Kataragama Devotees Trust volunteers will then assemble this information into a database that will eventually cover affected villages all the way south as far as Ampara district. This database will in turn be shared with national and international relief organizations in order to introduce more systematic coordination among relief agencies active on the East Coast.

Living Heritage volunteers appeal to people everywhere to contribute material support to onging disaster relief efforts in Sri Lanka. Immediate donations of dry goods and clothing are needed in Colombo, as well as financial donations are urgently needed to help families to get back on their feet.


If you wish to contribute to relief efforts that will go directly to Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Ampara districts of Sri Lanka, contact Living Heritage Disaster Relief Director Patrick Harrigan at or phone no. +94-11-267-5436 or cellular no. +94776697948.

Relief items (clothing and dry rations, medicines, etc.) may be delivered (locally) to:

Kataragama Pilgrims Thondar Sabha
3, Kovil Veethi, Captain's Garden
Colombo-10, Sri Lanka
Tel. no. +94-11-267-5436 or +94-77-669-7948

Financial donations may be sent in any one of these ways:

  1. BANK TO BANK TRANSFER: (preferred method)
    Account name: The Living Heritage Trust
    Account number : 1107344301
    Bank name: Commercial Bank of Ceylon
    Bank Routing No: 026002561
    Swift Code: CCEYLKLX
    Address of Bank: Galle Road, Colombo-3, Sri Lanka
    Payable to "The Living Heritage Trust c/o Patrick Harrigan" (Western Union sends immediately but charges 6.6% commission) Send to:
    Patrick Harrigan
    Kataragama Pilgrims Thondar Sabha
    3, Kovil Veethi, Captain's Garden
    Colombo-10, Sri Lanka
    Tel. no. +94-11-2675436 or +94-77-6697948
    Simply click on the "Tsunami Relief Fund" logo at right and you will transfer to a secure page where a wizard will guide you through the process of donating to the "Tsunami Relief Fund" of Kataragama Research Publications (publisher of this site).
    If you live in North America and you wish to donate by personal check, make the check payable to Patrick Harrigan and mail to (his mother) Rosanne Harrigan, 557 Broad Avenue, Manistee MI 49660 USA (Tel. 231 723-8493). Note on the check that it is for "Tsunami Relief Fund".

Photos: Tsunami Relief team surveys Batticaloa district
Living Heritage Trust Tsunami Disaster Relief report from Galle