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.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs