News

    Massive Infusion of Aid Needed as Asia Tsunami Toll Climbs Sharply

    The world is mounting a massive relief effort to respond to the escalating death toll from the tidal waves that raced across the Indian Ocean Sunday, triggered by one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded.  In just the past 24 hours, the death toll from the devastation across a dozen or so countries from Thailand to Somalia has more than doubled, with the number now believed to top 50 thousand.   Millions more have been left homeless as a result of what is now being described as one of the worst natural disasters in recent history. 

    Three days after the magnitude nine earthquake struck deep undersea off the western tip of Indonesia, the death toll continues to climb and governments in the region are warning the total number of dead is still far from being known.  Those who survived are recalling the shock of how some of South East Asia's most popular beach resorts were devastated in an instant by a mountain of water that no one, it seemed, knew in advance was about to crash ashore.   

    TOURIST #1:  "Suddenly, everybody stopped.  You could see a big surf coming in and then it just hit and there was devastation, boats getting smashed everywhere, people being washed away, just carnage really."

    TOURIST #2:  "Everything was under water, there were people running and screaming, nobody knew what was going on."  

    There are fears that entire coastal and small island communities may have been washed out to sea in some remote areas closest to where the quake struck.  
     
    “A number of people got swept away by the tidal wave,” said Indian National Security Advisor J.N. Dixit.   

    And, Patrick Nicholson of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development suspects the worst for inhabitants of islands off the tip of Sumatra, close to the epicenter of Sunday's powerful quake.

    "Government reports say the population there, 76,000 ...planes, spotter planes went to the area and they saw no people whatsoever on the islands, badly destroyed," he said.

    Indonesia and Sri Lanka are hardest hit.   Ashish Josi of Sky Television made it to the devastated Sri Lankan city of Galle.

    "We drove through small villages on our way into Galle today and everywhere we looked there were dead bodies,” he added.  “And driving into Galle, we were mobbed by scores of people.  They are desperate for food, water, medicine, clothing, anything they can get their hands on.   And there is a desperate shortage of fuel, of all the basic necessities you need and that's going to get worse over the next couple of days."

    In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now warning that if aid does not get to areas where it's needed quickly, outbreaks of cholera and malaria could claim as many lives as the initial earthquake and tsunami.  United Nations Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland says the world body may be in the verge of issuing its largest appeal for assistance ever.

    "I think this is unprecedented because very many countries are involved,” he noted.  “However, some of the countries are coping themselves very well which means that we can concentrate on four or five of the about 10 countries affected." 

    Governments, including the United States, are mobilizing to help.  Washington has pledged $35 million in relief aid as well as military transport planes to help fly in supplies.  Secretary of State Colin Powell expects that figure could change as the full extent of the tragedy becomes known. 

    "We will do more but we're still getting an assessment of what is needed and it will take time for that assessment to be made to see what nations can do for themselves, to see what the specific needs are and then we'll respond to those needs," he said. 

    In the aftermath of the disaster, questions are now being raised about whether lives could have been saved if the region had a tsunami warning system in place.   Although seismologists in Hawaii detected the quake, governments in countries bordering the Indian Ocean do not have an early warning system, like Pacific Ocean nations do, for alerting one another about the threat of tsunamis that earthquakes of this magnitude can generate.

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora