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Effects of Tsunami Felt as Far as Southern Africa


The effects of the tsunami in Asia are being felt in far corners of the globe. In southern Africa, people are responding generously to calls for assistance to the international relief effort.

Mozambique, one of the world's poorest nations, has donated $10,000 to the international relief effort for the people of Asia. The government said in a statement that the amount was symbolic and a way of returning the international assistance Mozambique received following a devastating flooding in 2000. The government appealed to it citizens to also contribute whatever they could afford.

Across the border, in South Africa, money is pouring in to the special relief accounts set up by humanitarian organizations, such as the South African Red Cross and the South African Tamil Federation. A team of doctors and engineers, equipped with food and water purification tablets, as well as mountain bikes for transport over rugged terrain, has left for Sumatra to assist the efforts of the International Red Cross.

The winnings from the first day of the third cricket test between South Africa and England will go to the relief effort. Banks and the business community are contributing money and food, and the government says it will announce its own contribution early next week. The government has set up a special relief office under the direction of its ministerial disaster task team.

While the southern Africa coastline was largely protected from the effects of Sunday's tsunami by Madagascar, there was unusual tidal activity along South Africa's eastern seaboard. For a period of 24 hours starting late Sunday, water surges of up to three meters flooded estuaries, ripping boats from their moorings, and the normal 12 hour tidal cycle was compressed to 20 minutes.

Beaches were flooded at Coffee Bay and Port St. Johns in the Eastern Cape province. Roughly 34 swimmers were rescued after being swept out to sea, but one remains missing, and is presumed dead.

In Johannesburg, staff at a recently opened Japanese seafood restaurant, called Tsunami, tried to convince a visitor that, until this week's disaster, the word only meant tidal wave. But customers in a store across the way were wondering whether the restaurant might soon change its name.

Many of the hundreds of South Africans who have returned home from Thailand, Sumatra, and Sri Lanka having survived the disaster, had nothing but praise for their hosts. Survivor after survivor spoke of the kindness and hospitality of the people of those countries, despite their own tragedies and loss.

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