Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday 31 December 2004

A happy, but sombre, new year ...

In memory of the 125,000+ men, women and children who have perished as a result of the earthquake near Sumatra, on the morning of 26th December 2004, and the subsequent tidal waves ('tsunamis') which have affected many countries around the Indian Ocean

A disaster of epic proportions occurred last Sunday morning, when an undersea earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter Scale off the north-west coast of Sumatra, one of the largest islands in the Indonesian archipelago, caused destructive tidal waves in countries around the rim of the Indian Ocean, some of the areas affected being thousands of miles from the epicentre of the earthquake. At the time of writing 80,000 are estimated to have died in Indonesia alone, although this number is expected to be revised upwards significantly once more information becomes available. In Sri Lanka more than 28,000 have perished.

The BBC main news page for this tragedy is here.

Unfortunately many of those in affected areas, and who survived the initial disaster, are still in very serious jeopardy. There is a need for clean water, food and emergency supplies (shelter, fuel, etc.) as well as medical emergency staff and supplies to minimise the very real risk of dehydration, starvation and the spread of disease from increasing the number of fatalities in the days and weeks to come. The orderly disposal of the remains of those who have died is necessary for disease prevention, and many of the bodies must be placed in mass graves without being individually identified, obviously a very distressing necessity for those left behind, but absolutely essential if they are to avoid infection. Following on from the initial emergency assistance, there will be an ongoing need for aid to help survivors rebuild their lives.

I know one of the areas affected, Phuket (Thailand), quite well having holidayed there on at least a dozen occasions over the years, specially when I lived in that part of the world and was accustomed to taking a few days break there a couple of times a year.

If you feel able to help by making a donation to aid those who need help NOW, you can do so by contacting:
- the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) website, or if you prefer
- various groups (including the DEC) and individual charities and agencies linked to here.
I urge you to consider making a donation, however small, if you can.

On that somewhat sombre note, I repeat my earlier message by wishing all my readers:
A Peaceful, Happy and Prosperous 2005 and beyond.

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