Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Too big to think about

The first number I heard was 2000. On the 27th it was 10,000, and it's just going up and up and up. The reporters are getting in and the victims are getting out so there's more to see and hear; the bodies are being buried without identification before they rot and kill the living. Now they reckon 100,000 people died on Boxing Day. As many more might die from water borne diseases if they don't get clean water soon.

Apparently disasters in Asia have a greater psychological effect on people in Britain than disasters anywhere else. Sri Lanka, India, Burma and Malaysia used to be part of the British Empire. We have a significant South Asian population here in this country, and many of us have been on holiday to India or East Asia. The vast majority of the people who died were poor, but a third of the dead in Thailand were Western tourists, and lots more of us have been to the places which are now devastated. Housemate S was in the Maldives a few months ago; I have been to Thailand, Tamil Nadu and Penang. We've walked on those beaches.

And I don't know what to do with myself. September 11 was terrifying, but we knew it was the work of men. What can we do to prevent this sort of catastrophe?

Well... there are early warning systems, and there is making poverty history.
Hope we have the collective will to do both when the crying's over.



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