Dec 29, 2004

Earthquakes, tsunamis and life

I was chatting with a Sri Lankan friend about an hour ago and I mentioned to him my surprise that the Bam, Iran earthquake of last year is not mentioned by the BBC (at as one of the major earthquakes of this century. Instead, after mentioning the Indonesia earthquake of a couple of days ago, the list jumps to 1964, I think. He said something to the effect that that's because the international community was not affected by Bam. With the Indonesia earthquake, the dead came from many countries around the world.

I suppose this view is cynical, but at least to me it's not such a surprise. I know that most people are more or less self-interested -- I know I am. So it's hardly immoral to give something more importance that affects you directly. Still, considering that 30,000 lives were lost in Bam, I think it deserved a mention.

And now, we're hearing that the Asian death toll is 44,000 (my God!) because of Indonesia's losses of maybe 25,000 and Sri Lanka's (almost) 19,000. I'm seeing stories of people from all over the world, famous and obscure, being caught up together in this disaster. This is brutal and amazing, that all are levelled to the same ground in the maelstrom, from supermodels to football stars, to the German chancellor himself.

And to add salt to the considerable wounds, Asia will almost certainly have to implement, at the cost of perhaps millions of dollars, tsunami and earthquake early warning systems or the tourist industry will never recover. Paradise on Earth will forever be on the lookout for death from the sea.

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