News

Asia Struggles to Cope With Tsunami Aftermath

Around the Indian Ocean, assistance is starting to arrive for the millions of people whose lives were shattered by Sunday's huge earthquake and the tsunamis it spawned. More than 25,000 people are confirmed dead, but more bodies are being found all the time and that death toll could double.

Three days after the earthquake, the numbers continue to rise inexorably - tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands displaced, millions of lives shattered.

Rescuers continue to recover bodies in many of the 11 countries hit by the tidal waves caused by Sunday's magnitude 9.0 quake in the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia's Vice President Jusuf Kalla says that the death toll may rise to 25,000 people in Indonesia alone. Many parts of northern Sumatra Island, the closest landmass to the quake's epicenter, have yet to be reached by rescuers.

"Certainly the body count in Banda Aceh is very high," said Kevin O'Reilly, who is with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance in Indonesia. "The unknown of course is how seriously the west coast has been affected from Aceh all the way down to north Sumatra, a lot of those areas are out of communications contact and the extent of devastation is still uncertain."

The only contact authorities have made so far with Meulaboh, one of the main towns on that stretch of coast, is a desperate S.O.S. message that time is running out. Food was being air dropped in the area Tuesday.

Sri Lanka was also badly hit and is expecting its death to rise to more than 20,000.

In India, smoke was rising from the beaches of the east coast as the bereaved cremated the thousands of remains of their beloved. New Delhi has deployed the Army in what the government says is its largest peacetime mobilization ever. Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the ruling Congress Party, toured the worst affect communities.

"We'll do all [we] can to support the Army in this exercise of rehabilitation of reaching food, water, medicines to those people who are stranded," said Mrs. Gandhi.

In Thailand, near the resort island of Phuket, more than 200 bodies lay in a Buddhist temple Tuesday. More than 60 percent were foreign holidaymakers.

Bangladesh, the Maldives, Malaysia, Burma and even Somalia on the east coast of Africa; all suffered casualties from the massive tsunamis that fanned out from the quake's epicenter - moving as fast as 1,000 kilometers an hour before smashing into costal into towns and villages, leaving devastation in their wake.

Assistance is beginning to reach those most in need. Representatives of the United Nations, governments and aid agencies met Tuesday in the Swiss city of Geneva to try and meld a coordinated response to the tragedy.

The United Nations says that the earthquake is likely to be the world's most expensive natural disaster. In Indonesia alone, aid workers estimate that it will cost almost $25 million to support half a million people for three months. And few people believe that the victims will be able survive on their own even after three months.

For many of the survivors, the danger is not over: they are now being stalked by disease. For aid agencies, the immediate priority is to provide food, shelter and clean water, to stave off illness like cholera and typhoid.

"The medical needs are enormous," said Gloria Chan, who is with the Hong Kong aid office of "Doctors Without Borders." "A lot of victims are in remote and inaccessible areas that need help urgently and immediately and on top of that there is a high risk of epidemic outbreak."

Aid workers fear that unless assistance can be provided quickly, people will continue to die, and will continue to die in large numbers.

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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs