Blog of Mass Distraction

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Disaster

The tsunami that struck in southern Asia has claimed some 24,000 lives so far. Caused by a massive earthquake off the coast of Aceh region in Indonesia, the wave generated even reached Somalia though there wasn't the same level of devastation there that there was in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. The quake was the most powerful in 40 years, a 9 on the richter scale. The massive destruction easily comes in at billions of dollars. Even in Somalia, some 6000km away, dozens of lives were lost. The wave actually reached Somalia about 7.5 hours later so, just guessing, it travelled at something around 800km/h. There were apparently a lot of tourists in Thailand at the time, including a couple of Canadians, but the vast majority of the thousands of lost lives are people of the regions.
Aid efforts from around the world are scrambling to try to circumvent the damage. They are now worrying about those that will continue to die from disease after the initial numbers killed by the wave itself. I was just watching BBC and the latest numbers say up to 60,000 people have died, including 27,000 in Indonesia alone. Many people are trying to dispose of the dead and get food, clothing and medicine to those that were spared their lives.
It's in tragedies like this that people remember the precious value of life. Seeing so many lose so much in a senseless, inescapable tragedy; it can lead to a very fatalistic view of the world. Especially the view that we are living out our own destruction. But as morose and tragic as the events and topics I discuss and take interest in are, I consider myself an optimist. Perhaps I'm cynical of certain people and organizations, yes, but I'm definitely an optimist when it comes to humanity in general. It's tragedies like this that bring out both the best and the worst in human nature; I always assume that the best will prevail. It is in man made disasters, however, that I cannot make the same assumptions.
News is still coming in from the worst hit areas since communication links have been down. There are also areas where there just aren't people to report the situation. Aceh already had problems with reporting since it has been under a military crack-down for such a long time. For now, there is little more to do other than wait and watch and, for those of us who believe in a greater power, pray.

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