Orders of magnitude

The tsunami disaster is now orders of magnitude worse than any other disaster.

In Indonesia

In the city of Meulaboh, about 110 miles south of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, only 1,000 people survived out of a population of 60,000,

From World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization

Many people lost everything. We saw the spot where World Vision built a housing project with 65 houses. They are all gone, as are the 95 Canadian-sponsored children who lived there. So, so sad. Clarence, the staff member in charge there, told us that on the first day, they cleared about 350 bodies from the rubble. The army took photos and fingerprints. Eventually the task became so overwhelming and impossible that they began burning bodies right where they lay.

One staff member, who celebrates 21 years of service with World Vision today, also is grieving the loss of 16 extended family members.

Child advocates fear children are being abducted from hospitals and relief camps to be trafficked as domestic help or into the sex trades.

Yesterday in Matara, some 7,000 people were buried in a mass grave. To facilitate identification, officials had the grisly chore of severing one finger from each body. World Vision provided a refrigerator where the body parts can be stored until family members are able to identify their loved ones.

In Sri Lanka, Tamil fishing industry swept away

More than a million fishermen in Sri Lanka’s north-east may have lost their livelihoods in the Asian tsunami, experts say.

Sri Lanka has a population of 20 million. 1.5 million are homeless and the fishing industry is gone.

About 80% of fishing boats there are believed destroyed and many fishermen are also too scared to go to sea.

The Tamil Tigers who hold some areas say the government has not shown it is committed to giving aid.

Indeed, there are disturbing reports the Sri Lanka government is actively blocking aid from reaching the Tamil-held areas, even though they deny it.

Highly industrialized areas of the world have tsunami warning systems. The Third World doesn’t. This could have been prevented. In a better world, one with a just and equitable economic system rather than the exploitative hyper-capitalism we have now which fattens a few while the many scramble to survive, all countries would be able to afford such now obviously essential things as tsunami warning systems. 

World Vision donations A non-sectarian Christian relief organization that quietly has done much good for fifty years now with no proselytizing.

Sarvodaya donations This Sri Lanka-based peace organization with 100,000 volunteers throughout the country can get aid to the stricken when no one else can.