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Tsunami Deadly for People Worldwide

By Gideon Long, Reuters


LONDON (Dec. 27) -- Anxious families across the world sought news of loved ones on Monday after a tsunami crashed into beaches and bars in some of Asia's most popular tourist resorts, killing more than 23,000 people and stranding many more.





The Abels family of Illinois hopes to find Ben Abels, 33, who was vacationing on a beach in Thailand when the water hit.


While the vast majority of victims were locals from India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives, hundreds were foreigners, enjoying Christmas in the sun at the busiest time of the year for the region's tourist trade.


In Sri Lanka alone, the government said 200 foreign tourists were feared dead. Nearly 1,000 people died in Thailand and an official there estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of them were holidaymakers.


"I honestly thought this is the worst way to die," said William Robins, a professional golfer from California who was honeymooning with his bride Amanda on Thailand's Phi Phi island.


"I thought I'm not meant to die like this," Robins, 26, told Reuters as he lay in a hospital bed in the resort of Phuket, his collarbone broken and most of his right ear torn off.


A day and a half after the tsunami struck, information on the fate of tourists was still scarce as authorities struggled with a disaster triggered by an awesome underwater tremor -- the world's biggest earthquake in 40 years.


Sunbathers and babies were swept off beaches by walls of water more than 30 feet high. Injured holidaymakers, many wearing only swimsuits, were carried to rescue helicopters on stretchers.


"I was sitting on the first floor of a bar, not far from the beach, watching cricket," said Australian tourist Stephen Dicks, 42, on Phuket, which draws 3 million foreign visitors a year.



"And suddenly all these people came screaming from the beach. I looked around and saw a massive wall of water rushing down the street. It completely wiped out the ground floor of my bar. Thank God I was upstairs."


Hotlines set up by foreign ministries and tour operators were swamped by calls from worried relatives.


Those killed in Sri Lanka included four Germans, four Indians and nine Japanese who were swept to their deaths as they watched elephants in a park.


At least 11 Italians were killed -- nine in Thailand and two in Sri Lanka.


Stockholm said at least 10 Swedes died and Oslo put its death toll at 13 with 20-40 injured and several hundred yet to be located. Washington said eight Americans were confirmed dead and hundreds were missing.


France said the waves claimed three French victims, including a four-year-old girl in Sri Lanka and an employee of the Club Mediterranee resort village in Phuket.



However, Club Mediterranee said more than 1,000 tourists at three of its resorts in the Maldives and Thailand were safe.


Thirteen Britons were killed -- most in Thailand, but also in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.


"The first thing I heard was a loud noise," Brenda Castle, 61, who was in a Sri Lankan hotel when the waves hit, said on arriving back at London's Heathrow airport.


"I turned to look through the glass door and just saw a massive amount of swirling muddy water heading for me," she told reporters. "I thought I was going to die."


Briton Babette Morgan, 70, was lounging by a swimming pool with her sister in Sri Lanka.


"I looked out across the sea and shouted 'tidal wave!'," she said after being carried off her return flight to London on a wheelchair after injuring her ankle in the chaos.


"We just ran for our lives."


British travel agents said charter flights that had been due to carry holidaymakers to devastated areas would instead fly out empty to evacuate survivors.


Nationals of Belgium, New Zealand, South Africa, Taiwan and Finland were also identified among the dead.



Known Deaths of Foreigners


Austria 4, Belgium 2, Canada 3, Denmark 2, France 6, Germany 4, Italy 11, Japan 9, New Zealand 1, Norway 13, South Africa 2, Sweden 10, Taiwan 1, Britain 12, U.S. 8


* Hundreds more have been reported missing. (Reuters)




This really is a tragedy that HAS affected the entire world.

Edited by italiangirl

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its up to about 26,000 now .. with 6 australians confirmed dead, including a 6 month old baby girl from my home town, indeed my home neighbourhood

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As the worst earthquake in just over 40 years hits an unaware part of the world, tens of thousands of holiday makers are trapped - and killed.


The official death toll now stands at just over 26,000, including a 6-month old baby girl, who was swept from her fathers saving arms by surgin water in Phuket (Taihland).


The earthquake measured 8.9 on the richter scale and the death toll is set to rise to almost double by the end of the week - with even more due to plague, fammine and disease.

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It is chaos here in Asia. People have got no idea whether to be shocked, or scared. But the Red Cross began taking donations almost immediately after news broke that it would require billions of dollars in aid to rebuild affected areas.


My best friend's father works in the Air Force, and he told me about how chilling it was to see empty body bags being loaded onto cargo planes headed for Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.


It is strangely comforting to see people all over the world band together at times like this. To know that even though someone in another part of the world may be thinking in a different language, we are all praying for the same thing -- for the victims and their families to somehow, make it through this.

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Tsunami Death Toll Rises to 44,000

Major Relief Effort Under Way



BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Dec. 28) - Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to around 44,000.


Emergency workers who reached Aceh province at the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island found that 10,000 people had been killed in a single town, Meulaboh, said Purnomo Sidik, national disaster director at the Social Affairs Ministry.



Another 9,000 were confirmed dead so far in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, and surrounding towns, he said. Soldiers and volunteers combed seaside districts and dug into rubble of destroyed houses to seek survivors and retrieve the dead amid unconfirmed reports that other towns along Aceh's west coast had been demolished.


With aid not arriving quick enough, desperate residents in Meulaboh and other towns in Aceh - a region that was unique in that it was struck both by Sunday's massive quake and the killer waves that followed - were turning to looting.


"It is every person for themselves here," district official Tengku Zulkarnain told el-Shinta radio station from the area.


"People are looting, but not because they are evil, but they are hungry," said Red Cross official Irman Rachmat in Banda Aceh.


In Sri Lanka, the toll also mounted significantly. Around 1,000 people were dead or missing and feared dead from a train that was flung off its tracks when the gigantic waves hit. Rescuers pulled 204 bodies from the train's eight carriages - reduced to twisted metal - and cremated or buried them Tuesday next to the railroad track that runs along the coastline.


More than 18,700 people died in Sri Lanka, more than 4,000 in India and more than 1,500 in Thailand, with numbers expected to rise. The Indonesian vice president's estimate that his country's coastlines held up to 25,000 victims would bring the potential toll up to 50,000.


Europeans desperately sought relatives missing from holidays in Southeast Asia - particularly Thailand, where bodies littered the once crowded beach resorts. Near the devastated Similan Beach and Spa Resort, where mostly German tourists were staying, a naked corpse hung suspended from a tree Tuesday as if crucified.


A blond two-year-old Swedish boy, Hannes Bergstroem, found sitting alone on a road in Thailand and taken to a hospital was reunited with his uncle, who saw the boy's picture on the hospital's Web site.




"This is a miracle, the biggest thing that could happen," said the uncle, who identified himself as Jim.


So far, more than 80 Westerners have been confirmed dead across the region - including 11 Americans. But a British consulate official in Thailand warned that hundreds more foreign tourists were likely killed in the country's resorts.


In Sri Lanka, more than 300 people crammed into the Infant Jesus Church at Orrs Hill, located on high ground from their ravaged fishing villages. Families and childres slept on pews and the cement floor.


"We had never seen the sea looking like that. It was like as if a calm sea had suddenly become a raging monster," said one woman, Haalima, recalling the giant wave that swept away her 5-year-old grandson, Adil.


Adil was making sandcastles with his younger sister, Reeze, while Haalima sat in her home Sunday morning. Haalima said the girl ran to her complaining that waves had crushed their castles, then came screams and water entered the home. "When we looked, there was no shore anymore and no Adil," she said.


In Sri Lanka's severely hit town of Galle, officials mounted a loudspeaker on a fire engine to advise residents to lay bodies of the dead on roads for collection and burial. Elsewhere in Sri Lanka, residents took on burial efforts with forks or even bare hands to scrape a final resting place for victims.


The tidal waves and flooding uprooted land mines in war-torn Sri Lanka, threatening to kill or maim aid workers and survivors who are attempting to return to what's left of their homes.


Amid the devastation, however, were some miraculous stories of survival.


In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found alive on a floating mattress. She and her family were later reunited. A Hong Kong couple vacationing in Thailand clung to a mattress for six hours.


The disaster could be history's costliest, with "many billions of dollars" of damage, said U.N. Undersecretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination.


Hundreds of thousands have lost everything, and millions face a hazardous future because of polluted drinking water, a lack of sanitation and no health services, he said.




Scores of people were also killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives. The tidal waves traveled as far as Somalia, where hundreds were reported dead, and Seychelles, where three were killed.


Children have emerged as the biggest victims of Sunday's quake-born tidal waves. The U.N. organization estimates at least one-third of the tens of thousands who died were children, said UNICEF spokesman Alfred Ironside in New York.


Officials in Thailand and Indonesia conceded that immediate public warnings of gigantic waves could have saved lives. The only known warning issued by Thai authorities reached resort operators when it was too late. The waves hit Sri Lanka and India more than two hours after the quake.


But governments insisted they couldn't have known the true danger because there is no international system in place to track tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, and they could not afford the sophisticated equipment to build one.


For most people around the shores across the region, the only warning Sunday of the disaster came when shallow coastal waters disappeared, sucked away by the approaching tsunami, before returning as a massive wall of water. The waves wiped out villages, lifted cars and boats, yanked children from the arms of parents and swept away beachgoers, scuba divers and fishermen.


The United States dispatched disaster teams and prepared a $15 million aid package to the Asian countries, and the 25-nation European Union promised to deliver $4 million. Japan, Portugal, China and Russia were sending teams of experts.


Egeland said he expected hundreds of relief airplanes from two dozen countries within the next 48 hours

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What a bummer. Hopefully this will lead to a warning system installed in that part of the world.


My son has a friend visiting that area of the world, the following is an E-mail Ben received from him today:


Click For Spoiler
Edited by Alterego

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Relief Effort Under Way as Death Toll Rises




BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Dec. 28) - Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to around 52,000.



Emergency workers found that 10,000 people had been killed in a single town, Meulaboh, in Aceh province at the northern tip of Sumatra island, the hardest hit region in Indonesia, said Purnomo Sidik, national disaster director at the Social Affairs Ministry





It just keeps getting worse and worse. And I keep hearing of more people who have some sort of connection to someone who is there.

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A Third of the Dead Are Said to Be Children



Published: December 28, 2004



OLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Dec. 28 - Survivors of the gigantic undersea earthquake on Sunday that swallowed coastlines from Indonesia to Africa - which officials now describe as one of the worst natural disasters in recent history - recovered bodies on Tuesday, hurriedly arranged for mass burials and searched for tens of thousands of the missing in countries thousands of miles apart.


The toll from the disaster - with more than 25,000 dead and many unaccounted for - came into sharper relief on a day when it seemed increasingly clear that at least a third of the dead were children, according to estimates by aid officials.


The International Red Cross and government officials here, as well as those in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, the Maldives and as far away as Somalia, warned that with hundreds of thousands of people stranded in the open without clean drinking water, epidemics of cholera and other waterborne diseases could take as many lives as the initial waves.


Images from around the region presented a tableau of unrelenting grief. Fathers and mothers wailed over drowned children. Bodies were arrayed in long rows in hastily dug trenches. Villagers sat by ruined homes, stunned. Hotels in some of Thailand's most luxurious resorts were turned into morgues.


"This may be the worst natural disaster in recent history because it is affecting so many heavily populated coastal areas," said Jan Egeland, the emergency relief coordinator for the United Nations, speaking at a news conference in New York.


"Usually a natural disaster strikes one or two or three countries, not eight or nine enormous coastlines like they've done here," he added. "Bigger waves have been recorded. But no wave has affected so many people." Nearly half the reported deaths were here in Sri Lanka, where estimates jumped Monday to more than 12,000 killed, and where more than a million people were reported to have lost their homes.


The realization began to emerge Tuesday that the dead included an exceptionally high number of children who, aid officials suggested, were least able to grab onto trees or boats when the deadly waves smashed through villages and over beaches. Children make up at least half the population of Asia.


On the western tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, the destruction was doubly fierce, caused by both the earthquake itself 150 miles away and the tsunamis that followed. The Associated Press reported from the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, that bloated bodies filled the streets and thousands of survivors huddled without shelter. The American Consulate in nearby Medan has received reports that waters around Banda Aceh reached as far as 10 miles inland. The floodwaters reportedly inundated one city hospital, drowning patients inside.


Some 5,000 people are confirmed dead but that number is expected at least to double [Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that the Indonesian government said that the toll had reached 9,000].Indonesia's vice president, Jusuf Kalla, said he attended a mass burial of 1,500. The area has been closed to journalists and aid workers because of a civil war, and only a few local journalists have gotten in.


Mr. Egeland said, "We haven't a clue" as to the number affected in Aceh. He said it had been impossible to reach contacts there, which he called "a bad sign."


India reported more than 4,000 dead on the mainland. Hundreds were dead or missing in the southern resort islands of Thailand, many of them foreign vacationers.


Mr. Egeland said the big problem now was to coordinate the huge international aid effort, a particularly daunting challenge given how widespread the devastation is. He said the total damage would "probably be many billions of dollars."


"We cannot fathom the cost of these poor societies and the nameless fishermen and fishing villages and so on that have just been wiped out," he said. "Hundreds of thousands of livelihoods have gone

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It's terrible.


I've been watching the news all day and listening to the reports on the radio.


Total devestation.


I've heard the death toll is now at 50,000.


Shocking. :assimilated::wow:

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No words seem adequate to express the magnitude of this tragedy. But it goes to show again how little control we truly have over the forces of nature; and how quickly and unexpectedly life can be taken away. We should make the best of what time we have on this earth; what time we have with friends, and loved ones..........and be kind to others whose paths we cross.

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Picard once said " Time is a companion the goes along with us on the journey, it tells us to cherish every moment, because it may never come again."

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i think as most of us did not know people in the affected area, we are just relaying statistics, need i remind people of the real nature of it all...i think the youngest death is a 6-month old baby...ripped from her fathers arms.

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i think as most of us did not know people in the affected area, we are just relaying statistics, need i remind people of the real nature of it all...i think the youngest death is a 6-month old baby...ripped from her fathers arms.


Actually, I have read cases wich the infants were even younger. I don't remember the links but I think its logical to assume that out of all these deaths a lot of mothers must have been pregnant as well or with their childs recently born.

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I agree with Gotabite - and I still fail to find words about such a horrific event. But whatever you believe about life (or life after life) for those that were killed the horror is over. I've read they fear nearly as many as were killed by floods may die from disease or famine in the next few months. There is a shortage of everything. And people are suffering physically and emotionally.


And for those that survive - many adults were able to survive while their children didn't - that will make this devastation particularly difficult for emotional recovery.

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Asia Rushes to Bury 76,700 Tsunami Victims




BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Dec. 29) - Cargo planes touched down with aid Wednesday, bearing everything from lentils to water purifiers to help survivors facing the threat of epidemic after this week's quake-tsunami catastrophe. The first Indonesian military teams reached the devastated west coast of Sumatra island, finding thousands of bodies and increasing the death toll across 12 nations to more than 76,700.



The international Red Cross warned that the toll could eventually surpass 100,000.


Town after town along the Sumatran coast was covered with mud and sea water, with homes flattened or torn apart, an Associated Press reporter saw on a helicopter overflight with the military commander of the island's Aceh province. The only signs of life were a handful of villagers scavenging for food on the beach.


Western Sumatra suffered a double blow in Sunday's disaster, shattered both by the most powerful earthquake in 40 years and perhaps the deadliest tsunami in recorded history, which wreaked destruction across a dozen nations.


"The damage is truly devastating," Maj. Gen. Endang Suwarya said. "Seventy-five percent of the west coast is destroyed and some places it's 100 percent. These people are isolated and we will try and get them help."


The first military teams reached the devastated fishing town of Meulaboh on Sumatra's coast and across the coast they found thousands of bodies, bringing Indonesia's toll to 45,268, with 1,240 reported missing, according to the Health Ministry's official count. That toll was likely to rise - one official on Tuesday estimated that as many as 10,000 people were dead in Meulaboh alone.


The race was on to try to prevent an outbreak of diseases and curb food shortages among millions of homeless, which the U.N. health agency said could kill as many as the waves and quake. While Sri Lanka said it was getting its first reports of measles and diarrhea, paramedics in southern India began vaccinating 65,000 survivors against cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A and dysentery.



In Sri Lanka's second largest city, the hard-hit southern resort of Galle, refugees from ravaged homes crowded into churches, Buddhist temples and mosques, and food supplies were short.


"Even those people who were not affected can't get food. Nothing is available," said Father Raja Perera, of St. Mary's Roman Catholic church.


Sri Lanka on Wednesday listed more than 22,400 people dead, India close to 7,000 - with 8,000 missing and feared dead. Thailand put its toll at more than 1,600. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.


From East Africa to southern Asia, chances faded of finding more survivors of Sunday's massive, quake-driven walls of water. Tens of thousands of people were still missing. German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder said 1,000 Germans were unaccounted for.


"We have to fear that a number of Germans clearly in the three-digit numbers will be among the dead," Schroeder told reporters. Currently, 26 Germans have been confirmed dead.


"We have little hope, except for individual miracles," Chairman Jean-Marc Espalioux of the Accor hotel group said of the search for thousands of tourists and locals missing from beach resorts of southern Thailand - including more than 2,000 Scandinavians.


In Sri Lanka, reports of measles and diarrhea were beginning to reach health authorities, causing concern of an epidemic, said Thilak Ranaviraj, the government's top official handling relief efforts. "The most important thing is the quality of water," he said.


Four relief planes arrived in the capital, Colombo, bringing a surgical hospital from Finland, a water purification plant from Germany, doctors and medicine from Japan and aid workers from Britain, the Red Cross said.


Meanwhile, trucks fanned out to deliver bandages, antibiotics, tents, blankets and other supplies to the country's hardest hit areas, the southern and eastern coast. A dozen trucks left the U.N. World Food Program depot in Colombo on Tuesday. The military said a fleet of 64 trucks packed with rice, sugar, tents and other essentials entered Tamil areas Wednesday


But officials in the east said at least four WFP trucks bound for Tamil areas in the north were forcefully diverted by Sinhalese mobs and low-ranking government officials to predominantly Sinhalese areas. Selvi Sachchithanandam, a WFP spokeswoman, declined to comment on the report.


Sri Lanka has been torn for years by a conflict with separatist Tamil rebels who control parts of the north, demanding independence from the mostly-Sinhalese nation.


At Banda Aceh, the wrecked capital of Indonesia's Aceh province, bulldozers dug mass graves for thousands of corpses lining the streets and lawns as authorities hurried to get the dead in the ground.


Supplies - including 175 tons of rice and 100 doctors - reached Banda Aceh earlier, but with aid not arriving quickly enough, desperate people in towns across Sumatra stole whatever food they could find, officials said.


Widespread looting also was reported in Thailand's devastated resort islands of Phuket and Phi Phi, where European and Australian tourists left valuables behind in wrecked hotels when they fled - or were swept away by - the torrents.



An international airlift was under way to ferry critical aid and medicine to Phuket and to take home shellshocked travelers. Jets from France and Australia were among the first to touch down at the island's airport. Greece, Italy, Germany and Sweden planned similar flights.


The world's biggest reinsurer, Germany's Munich Re, estimated the damage to buildings and foundations in the affected regions would be at least $13.6 billion.


Donations for recovery efforts came in from all parts of the globe.


The governments of the United States, Australia and Japan pledged a combined $100 million while taxi drivers in Singapore put donation tins in their cars and volunteers in Thailand text-messaged aquaintances to give blood to the Red Cross.


In Thailand, Thai rescue workers helped by teams sent from Sweden, Germany and Taiwan rescuers combed the beaches and islands Wednesday for missing tourists and locals swept away by earthquake-powered tidal waves. Bodies were still washing up on several beaches three days after the waves struck.


Although the toll was expected to soar, a total of 473 foreigners of 36 nationalities were confirmed killed, the Interior Ministry said. They were among thousands of Western and Asian holiday-makers packing hotels and bungalows during the height of the tourist season when killer waves struck Sunday.

Edited by italiangirl

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These were the figures of 3 hours ago, of course, by now they are obsolete but it gives us an idea how big the catastrophe is:

Indonesië 45.268


Sri Lanka 22.493


India 12.419


Thailand 1829


Somalia 114


Birma (Myanmar) 90


Maldives 67


Malaysia 65


Tanzania 10


Bangladesh 2


Kenia 1


Total: 82.358

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Red Cross is saying most likely 100,000 dead and the bet is that will jump to 200,000 once diseases breaks out, but I fear it will be much higher. Some one told me we could see a death toll of that near one of the atomic bombs dropped back in world war two.

Edited by Capt_Picard

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This is a link where you can see a vidclip of a minute and a half of the first tsunami's to hit the beaches. This shows several children playing on the beach when the wave hits, they realise to late that this is no normal wave...

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Now heavy rains are setting in in some areas...; doesn't look good for the 5 million homeless.

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