Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Big Wave Hits the Horn of Africa

Well, of course this is all over the news the past few days, the huge earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, 9.0 on the Richter scale (that's a biggie), the massive tsunami it set off, and the tens of thousands of people killed. I can't recall hearing about a natural disaster this huge, in my lifetime.

Big waves like that can travel for thousands of miles:
Government Officials to Travel Around Somalia to Assess Damage

By Cathy Majtenyi
28 December 2004

Somalia's new government plans by the end of the week to visit areas of Somalia most affected by the recent Asian tidal wave, while the International Committee of the Red Cross is sending out a relief shipment from Kenya to Sri Lanka to help victims there.

Somali Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Gedi announced in Nairobi Tuesday that he is set to head a delegation to tour the devastation wrought by Sunday's Asian tidal wave.

"Basically, my trip to Somalia is to assist the international organizations to support the affected people and the victims on the ground," he said.

Mr. Gedi says more than 100 people were killed by huge waves from Sunday's tsunami and more than 150 injured. He says the Puntland region is the most affected area.

Mr. Gedi, whose government is still based in Kenya because of security concerns, says United Nations agencies are already on the ground distributing food and other supplies to victims.

But, he says, more help is needed.

"The type of assistance I am requesting is food, shelter, and medicines, as well as water," he added.

Sunday's tidal wave, caused by an earthquake in the ocean near the coast of Indonesia, has killed more than 40,000 people in such countries as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Maldives, and has wrecked massive devastation all over.

Huge waves radiated out to East Africa, hitting the islands of Mauritius, Reunion, and Seychelles in the process. The waves killed at least 10 people in Tanzania and one person in Kenya, with several injuries and destruction of properties.

That tidal wave reminds me of trying to carry a big pan of water--the slightest little unsteadiness will send water sploshing over the edge. On a macro scale, the Earth's oceans are kind of like that. And we're all just a bunch of insignificant microbes swarming about the edge of the water.

Anyway, damage in Somalia hits a bit close to home for me--my fiancé's family is from there. I have not heard if any of them were affected, but I think they are probably alright.

(And frankly, the level of devastation caused by this tsunami in Somalia does not seem very large compared to the effects of years and years of violence, civil war, famine and anarchy. Other areas, closer to the epicenter, are obviously far worse off.)


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