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December 27, 2004

On "The desperate search, the intolerable grief" Are other tragedies waiting to happen?

Topics: International News

Can we learn from tragedies such as the disastrous tsunami that struck southeast Asia? Can we learn to better predict natural disasters? What about manmade disasters? The shock of the pain and suffering being experienced by the relatives and living victims of the tsunami can tell us something of the possible effects of other tragedies - even manmade ones.

From Times On-line World Dec 28:

The death toll across southern Asia has reached 23,700. The worst-hit country was Sri Lanka, with an estimated 12,000 deaths, followed by India with 6,600. But as many as 30,000 people were said to be missing in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
[Click image to enlarge-
A mother and father mourn their eight-year-old son in Cuddalore, south of Madras, India (ARKO DATTA/REUTERS)]

BRIAN PAGE should have spent yesterday enjoying an early morning surf in the sparkling blue Sri Lankan waters before rejoining his extended family for a leisurely breakfast on the beach.

Instead he spent it wandering around overflowing mortuaries, searching among the corpses for three friends still missing after the massive tsu-nami that caused havoc across the Indian Ocean on Boxing Day. "We just need someone with authority to tell us where to look," said the father of four as he stood in a ward in Galle's main hospital.

One of the missing had been swept from the verandah in Mirissa where the family was breakfasting; the other two had not been heard of since their hotel in Hikkaduwa was levelled. "You can't go back to where you stayed because it's gone, it's flattened," said Mr Page, from Southampton. "You hope for the best but you look everywhere. Just to check, just to see if they are there. There' s nothing else we can do."

Thousands along this shattered southern coast, foreign tourists and local people, began their day the same way yesterday: waiting at hospitals struggling to cope with the stream of bloated corpses, scrabbling through the rubble of collapsed buildings or dredging through the muddy waters left behind.

Similar scenes were played out in coastal communities across southern Asia as the death toll from the tsunami passed 23,000 and continued to grow. However, nowhere was hit worse than Sri Lanka, which alone accounted for more than 12,000 of those victims. The Government said that about 200 foreign tourists were feared dead, and as many as 1.5 million people had lost their homes.

From a weed-choked lagoon at Kudawella, south of Galle, a group of men carried the limp figure of a 22-year-old woman and laid it on the ground. They stood around, almost prayerful, gazing on her still form.

She was just the latest of scores of bodies that surfaced in the lagoon after the flood-waters receded. The silence was broken with a howl as a woman in a printed dress burst through the crowd and fell on the corpse. "My sister, my sister," she howled, beating her chest. "Why, why, why?" Deepetha, the dead woman, had been shopping for food when the wave hit. Her sister pulled the gold rings from her fingers and ears to save them from looters. From a bench, another women watched blankly, cradling her child in her lap. She pulled back the cloth to reveal her calm dead face and began to cry. Continue reading...

What can be worse than the incredible grief of parents that have lost their child? It's hard to imagine the depth of sorrow being felt throughout the entire tsunami-torn region of our world. We lost less than 4000 lives in 9/11, southern Asia has lost 23,700 and counting - with a probable toll exceeding 53,700. No human being could have prevented the tsunami; persons purported to be human beings caused Sept 11. The tsunami was a freak of nature; the purported human beings that caused Sept 11 were simply freaks called Islamists. Both the tsunami and Sept 11 were great tragedies, but one of them could have been prevented. The tsunami has caused much greater loss of life than that of Sept 11 and the extent of suffering is incalculable. There are no attorneys trying to calculate the cost of the tsunami but the attorneys have yet to stop trying to calculate a cost for Sept 11 in behalf of their clients. The relatives of the victims of the tsunami will have no attorneys to calculate their loss and there is no one to pay it anyway.

Of course there is no way to compare these two separate tragedies and no reason to try. For the relatives of the victims of each tragedy there is no grief but their own. Yet it seems that nature has given us all something that we didn't have before Dec 27, 2004. A near-term international window into how horrible a disastrous event can be and a visual and experiential warning that whatever can be done to prevent such disasters in the future, natural or man-made, had  better be done sooner rather than later. The next disaster we read about could very easily be man-made and it's effects could be incalculably greater than those of the recent tsunami. WMDs in the hands of the Osama bin Ladens of the world or Islamists remaining unchecked in pursuit of their agendas, both hidden and open, could make this tsunami a mere rainstorm compared to the great flood. Where does this take us? The victims of the tsunami need the world's help now and I believe that they are going to get it, but not near enough. If we don't stop Islam everywhere - now, there won't be anyone left worth saving and there won't be anyone there to do the saving anyway. Whether it be in Iraq or in communities here in America, we had better recognize the threat we non-Muslims and moderate Muslims alike are facing from radical Islam - or the tsunami of terror that awaits us will truly be just as incalculable as todays tsunami in southeast Asia. As for the cost, it won't matter because we will then have already paid it with our freedom and our lives! Just think about it.

Posted by Hyscience at December 27, 2004 10:56 PM

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