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Wednesday, December 29, 2004


It is impossible to imagine the sheer horror of 60,000 deaths from a single natural disaster. As further details emerge, including the fact that one third of the dead may be children, that the numbers may rise further and that disease could kill as many people again if fresh water and medicine do not reach stricken areas soon, the act of connection becomes ever more difficult.

Some of the UK media have sought to bring home the reality of this tragedy by concentrating on stories of British casualties in the hope that it will help us comprehend it better. However, in doing that they have distracted attention from the scale of the disaster, whilst giving the impression of self-indulgence. The pictures of bodies and devastation in the broadsheets, and television reports showing wrecked luxurious holiday destinations, do not begin to convey the enormity of this event. I do not have the words nor, it seems, does anybody else. As with Dave Weeden, we must rely on eyewitness accounts to get anywhere near understanding the impact of this earthquake on those who experienced it.

The task for now appears to be clear. The rest of the World must seek to prevent further deaths by getting adequate aid and support to the region. The role of leadership in this lies with the wealthier countries who must assume a co-ordinated and determined responsibility for dealing with the disaster. They too, will still be struggling to come to terms with the scale of the task ahead of them but, unlike us armchair witnesses, they will be doing so quickly so as to ensure that the aid that they give will be timely and effective.

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