:: The tsumani disaster in Southeast Asia continues to dominate the news, and rightfully so. It is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this event for many of us in Canada. Latest reports have the death toll topping 123,000 people. Unicef is suggesting that children will account for one third of the dead:
NEW YORK, 28 December 2004 – Children are likely to account for more than a third of those killed when massive waves smashed into coastal communities across Asia, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said today.
“Virtually no country has a population with less than a third of its population aged eighteen years or below and in some of the countries up to 50 per cent of the population is young,” she told reporters at the United Nations.
According to UNICEF, children account for a large proportion of casualties because they represent 39 per cent of the overall population in the eight hardest-hit countries. Eyewitness accounts indicate that many children died because they weren’t strong enough to hold on to fixtures or trees when huge tidal waves swept them off their feet.
The saddest aspect for me is that each of these people was an individual with goals, dreams, and aspirations. Their deaths, so sudden and unexpected, will in turn impact millions of others who knew and loved them. For hundreds of thousands, there can be no closure, as their loved ones will be buried in mass graves or cremated, given that there are no other options at the moment. Many will be buried anonymously, or never found, adding to the prolonged grief of their friends and relatives. In the wake of the tsunamis, millions are homeless. Tonight, I will sleep comfortably in my own bed, and not worry about sub-zero temperatures outside, because I have shelter with food, clothing, water, electricity, plumbing, heat, transportation, and communication, and live in a city with an infrastructure supporting my daily needs. Feeling guilty because one is fortunate to experience a high standard of living is a wasted emotion. The tsunami disaster in SE Asia serves to remind us of that good fortune, and to not take it for granted.
According to geophysicists, the displacement of material by the earthquake was so enormous that the rotation of the earth has been permanently altered, with the Earth now spinning at 1/10,000th of a second shorter (3 microseconds). Scientists have estimated that during the earthquake, material approximately 600 miles long and 100 miles wide, inside the Earth, fell 30 feet closer to the planet’s axis of rotation. Further details are emerging regarding how the quake has literally redrawn the map in the region, displacing some islands by several metres.