Asian Tsunami Death Toll Hits 23,000

Update: The Command Post has a comprehensive list of relief efforts accepting contributions.

This is just unfathomable...23,000 people dead in a natural disaster that rippled like a wave from country to country in the Eastern hemisphere. I hadn't planned on writing about it but I also can't ignore it. So add your thoughts.

The disaster spared no one. Western tourists were killed sunbathing on beaches, poor villagers drowned in homes by the sea and fishermen died in flimsy boats. The 21-year-old grandson of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej was killed on a jet-ski.

"We have a long way to go in collecting bodies," said Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who expected the 866 death toll in his country to go much higher. One Thai official estimated up to 30 percent of the dead were foreigners.

There is already a weblog cataloguing events in the region. [link via Instapundit.]

An early warning system might have prevented some of the casualties. The countries involve respond they can't afford such a system. The U.S. spotted it first, but couldn't reach anyone:

It emerged that U.S. officials who detected the quake tried frantically to warn Asia the deadly wall of water was on its way but there was no official regional alert system to contact.

Assuming that means there was no computer system to link to, what about the telephone? Did anyone call the President of Sri Lanka or the Thai Government or Prime Minister of India? How about the resorts? Did anyone call them to tell them to warn their guests? Maybe in the future, even a simplistic device such as an air raid siren (like the ones in the WWII movies) could signal an impending disaster to the public. Perhaps you don't need a computer system of alerts, you just need someone who does receive advance warning by computer system to pick up the phone and call the affected area and say "Sound the siren."

As huge as this disaster is, it is neither the largest tsunami or earthquake disaster in history. An earthquake in Iran killed 31,000 just a year ago. And,

The tsunami had echoes of another apocalyptic seismic event that originated in Indonesia when the island volcano of Krakatoa erupted in 1883 causing a tsunami that killed 36,000 people.

So what is Bush doing to help? Monitoring the situation from his ranch in Texas where he's "clearing brush" and playing cowboy. He had his staff send letters of condolence.

Update: The U.S. has pledged $15 million to the relief effort.

Update: Phil at the Speculist has some more thoughts on early warning systems and the role the media could play in saving lives.

[Thread hijacked, comments closed. Most will be deleted later.]

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