The Airing of Grievances
Monday, December 27, 2004
I'm sure you have all heard by now of the tsunami which smacked into coastal areas Southeast Asia yesterday. But it is tough to imagine the devistation to people who live in these areas.
Imagine you are a fisherman in Sri Lanka, Andoman, Sumatra or Thailand. You are on the beach, sorting through your morning's catch, when suddenly, the water runs out 1/2 mile further than you have ever seen it before, exposing the ocean floor and thousands of fish, rocks and objects that you have felt with your feet, but never seen on land before. You run out to the sea, when suddenly it rushes back towards you faster than you have ever seen it. Within seconds, you are floating in water 20 feet deep and rocketing towards the shoreline. You look in towards shore and your entire village is underwater. Then, the water syphons out of the village, dragging everything you know with it. Your home, possessions, wife, children, boat - everything. What's left is mud, and debris and destruction. All of this without warning and happening within a 5 minute period.
If you can imagine this, you can start to get the feeling that is facing hundreds of thousands people in low-lying areas around the Bay of Bengal today. Of course, not all of the areas affected are little fishing villages. Madras is a populous as Chicago. Phuket is a popular a travel destination as any beach town in the US. The death toll is about 23,000 and rising, and that is the least of what could be a region-wide epidemic of water bourne illnesses that could start up as soon as tomorrow if people don't get fresh drinking water and clean food supplies. Reuters has the most complete look at the tragedy here.
Also, catch some BBC Eyewitness accounts here. There aren't words for something like this, so I'll leave you with some pictures wich tell the story better than I can:
A Sri Lankan Village
A wave retreats through a Sri Lankan city
Pretty much says it all - an Indian father holding the hand of his dead son to his forehead.
News continues to post about the disaster, and aid is just starting to flow in. However, in a time when the US really could use some PR help in the two largest Muslim democracies in the world (India and Indonesia), the Red King has been beaten to the punch Australia and France, as they ferry over drinking water and supplies, Bush retreats to Texas making a non-committal statement on aid. What he should be doing is getting these people rice and water and plastic sheeting with the Stars and Stripes on it - not clearing brush at the ranch. But then again, what else can you expect from the "Leader of the Free World" - He's on vacation.
(UPDATE: - Just to prove to you all that we at the AofG are not heartless realpolitik-espousing bastards, you can find out where to help victims of this tragedy here. Cozmo will be giving money to Doctors Without Borders, a great charity that has almost no operating cost overhead on donations.)
UPDATE II - Cozmo's boy, Colin Powell, steps up to the plate putting the US in the pole position in aid given to the region at $15 million, $4 million to the International Red Cross and another $10 million or so in other direct aid. I'm glad to hear that we are stepping into the fray here, and think we should pony-up more soon.