News

Search Continues for Thousands Missing After Asian Tsunamis

Phil Mercer

Aid agencies and foreign governments have joined the effort to find the thousands still missing after Sunday's massive earthquake sent tidal waves crashing into coastal towns and beach resorts across southern Asia.

Hundreds of fishermen are missing off the south coast of India. Many were out in their boats early on Sunday when the waves hit.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck under the Indian Ocean off the western Indonesian island of Sumatra. It generated a giant wall of water that sped across more than a thousand kilometers of sea.

Authorities in India have said there is little hope of finding survivors among the fishing fleets battered by the waves.

There has been similar devastation in Sri Lanka. Although 1,600 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake, the tsunamis, with nothing to slow them in the open ocean, struck with great ferocity and swept inland as far as two kilometers.

A large-scale search and rescue operation is underway along the southern and eastern coasts for survivors. Relief officials in Sri Lanka say thousands appear missing, including scores of foreign tourists on holiday.

In Thailand, the search is continuing for scuba divers and other tourists who are believed to have been swept out to sea from beaches on the island of Phuket.

An Australian boy with Down's Syndrome is among the missing in Phuket. He and his parents were standing close to the surf when the tsunamis hit and separated them. His sobbing mother spoke to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation

"He was calling me. Then they just went. They just all went," she said.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard says those searching for missing friends and relatives have his country's sympathy.

"My message to them is that all Australians try as best they can to share your grief and your anxiety and we can only hope in each case there is good news," said Mr. Howard.

Some Australian travelers have already begun arriving home. Among them is Ed Weaver, who was on vacation with his wife in Phuket, Thailand, and who saw local hotels devastated.

"We went downstairs. We thought we'd drop in the Holiday Inn. It's no longer there. There's a jet ski in the main foyer. Took in the pool and there's a three-foot long shark swimming round the pool but there's people that were on the beach, they didn't come back," said Ed Weaver.

The earthquake sparked tidal surges that reached as far as Somalia in east Africa. In the Seychelles, nine people are reported missing when a two-meter surge struck.

Food, medicine and fresh water are desperately needed in many parts after the floods ripped away vital infrastructure. Aid agencies and foreign governments face a race to get the supplies in quickly, with officials warning that the spread of disease could heap more devastation on countries unable to cope with the disaster.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs