Recovering from tsunamis

What others say

Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2004

Much, however, will remain to be done even after all this has been accomplished. Beyond the first aid, there is the task of helping the victim nations to recover, and that will include restoring the infrastructure that has been destroyed — the schools, clinics, roads, businesses and homes. As many as one million people may have lost their homes in Indonesia alone, and the number of homeless may be similarly high in Sri Lanka. Assistance will be required to help the victims rebuild their lives, for most of them live in developing countries.

In the long term, the region must develop an effective early-warning system to deal with tsunamis. One of the most poignant remarks heard in the past two days came from the director of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who said his office tried to send out a warning soon after the earthquake off Sumatra's northern tip occurred, but they did not ''have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world.'' This cannot be allowed to happen again.

The Straits Times, Singapore, Dec. 29

... So many deaths. So much devastation. So little warning.

Aid is already pouring into areas affected by the giant waves that smashed into the coastlines of nine countries along the Indian Ocean. Much more will be needed. For every known death, authorities say, there are thousands more who have lost their homes and every possession.

The United States is contributing to early relief efforts, and should do more. Donations are also pouring in through the American Red Cross' International Response Fund.

But even as the immediate needs are met, the world's leaders should take stock of the early warning system for natural disasters around the globe.

The only international warning system currently operates in the Pacific Ocean. That system detected the underground quake that triggered the tsunamis, but frantic attempts to warn affected countries failed because there was no formal system of notification. Officials in some areas— such as Thailand— knew of the underwater earthquakes but didn't know about the giant waves they spawned. ...

Over the coming weeks and months, hundreds of billions of dollars in aid will flow to countries devastated by the tsunamis. But even as they plan to assist with disaster relief, nations should consider investing in a system that could help to prevent such tragedy in the future.

The Daytona (Fla.) Beach News-Journal, Dec. 28

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