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Suicide and displaced landmines are the new threats to life in areas of Sri Lanka devastated by the tsunami, according to a GP who has returned from one of the worst-hit


Dr Sashi Shashikanth flew to his home town of Point Pedro in the Tamil Tiger-ruled north of the country immediately after the wave hit.

After only intending to stay for 24 hours, he spent eight days in the town providing care to 300 patients a day. Around 2,000 people died in the remote region.

Dr Shashikanth, a GP in Watford, said many of those who survived had tried to commit suicide after failing to save relatives. 'I performed a lot of stomach washings. Some people had seen their children washed away and begged to be allowed to die.'

Another problem is landmines laid during the civil war which have been dislodged by the flood waters.

Dr Shashikanth and his wife spent more than £1,000 of their own money on medical supplies. Family and friends in the UK donated a further £1,600. He plans to fly out again to continue with the relief effort.

'The local hospital was reeling as they were already short of doctors,' he said. 'They desperately need people like GPs as they are all-rounders who can cope with the workload.

'They need help in the short term to perform minor surgery and clean wounds, and they desperately need a blood bank facility.'

Dr Shashikanth said he had been called a 'hero' by his patients. 'They really appreciate it but coming from there I really felt I had to contribute.

'It is extremely painful to see such a beautiful town devastated and reduced to a ghost town by the tsunami.'

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