December 30, 2004
TSUNAMI: 'EARLY WARNING SYSTEM' NEEDED TO PREVENT 'MASSIVE DISASTERS'
** Mankind is "totally helpless" in the face of such "irresistible natural forces."
** Launching a massive relief effort is a "task for the whole world."
** Asian dailies call for an effective and integrated tsunami warning system.
** Critics blast the "stinginess of the richest countries."
'Ant-like powerlessness before nature's crushing footprint'-- Several papers cited the tsunami as proof of the "colossal power of nature and the helplessness" of humanity. The conservative Australian saw a "salutory if unsettling lesson on the irrelevance of human endeavor in the face of nature," while the independent Philippine Star judged the devastation a "humbling reminder of the frailty of human existence." For these observers, nothing could have "prevented a tragedy of large proportions" in light of "nature's whimsical fury."
Providing 'fast relief' is the 'entire world community's responsibility'-- Dailies called for "comprehensive international aid" to provide "all the help that is necessary." In addition to what Norway's newspaper-of-record Aftenposten labeled the "acute need for help," regional outlets stressed that the effort must be sustained because "aid will be needed long after the immediate impact." Many writers concluded that the UN has to coordinate what could be the "largest humanitarian operation in history" because, as France's left-of-center Le Monde said, "only the UN has the capacity." These writers doubted that any U.S.-led aid coalition can manage relief "faster and more efficiently" than the UN.
'Continued complacency is no longer an option'-- Asian media emphasized the need to fix "inadequate" warning systems and "cooperate closely and quickly" to improve planning, preparation and prevention. Thailand's independent Nation called for SE Asian nations to "pool their resources and expertise to acquire the ability to forecast" tsunamis. Many Indian papers criticized New Delhi's "lack of farsightedness and...inefficiency" in not having such a system; the leftist News Today alleged India's "antiquated" bureaucracy was "not knowledgeable or...was indifferent" to the tsunami threat. Some advised richer nations to provide "adequate resources" for tsunami monitoring; liberal Tokyo Shimbun said Japan "should play a leading role" in creating such a system in the Indian Ocean.
The disaster illustrates globalization's 'dramatic contradictions'-- Liberal outlets blamed much of the "human despair and suffering" on "poverty and ignorance" in affected areas. They noted that natural disasters "serve to punish, to an unimaginable extent, underdevelopment" and demanded the "rich world" prove that "globalization is more than unbridled capitalism." Critics also saw a "greater onus on the rich world to respond generously," as Italy's centrist Corriere della Sera warned of a possible "anti-globalization and anti-western wave." Other media demanded humanity be more "environmentally conscious"; a French broadsheet hoped the disaster could spark "solutions...to global warming."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 115 reports from 32 countries over 27 - 30 December 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "How To Rein In The Apocalypse Horsemen"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (12/29): "Only in the minds of poets and hymn-writers are floods cleansing. In real life, they are filthy, opening sewers, contaminating water sources and spreading disease. The Indian Ocean is now surrounded by a thin strip of wreckage, a flotsam of broken buildings and unburied corpses: perfect conditions for cholera, typhoid and malaria. For many of the survivors, the misery is just beginning.”
"A Time To Lead: The Need For Co-ordinated Action In The Indian Ocean Is Now Critical"
The conservative Times opined (12/29): "It was unfortunate that [Jan Egeland, the UN emergency co-ordinator] chose yesterday to label as 'stingy' the UN’s wealthiest donor nations, and by implication the U.S.. As Colin Powell, the outgoing US secretary of state, emphasized later, his country is already by far the largest single donor to UN emergency aid efforts, committing $35 million so far and promising 'billions' in due course. The public dispute was unnecessary. It will, however make separate, rather than co-ordinated, action by the U.S. and the UN more likely as the emergency relief phase of the operation gives way to longer-term aid--and this may not be a bad thing.”
"Asian Disaster Is A Test For The World: Governments Must Respond Rapidly And Generously"
An editorial in the independent Financial Times read (12/29): "The world must provide whatever is needed as swiftly as possible. The UN is poised to launch its biggest aid appeal to donor nations, exceeding the $1.6bn (£800m) requested for Iraq last year. Jan Egelund, head of the UN office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, on Monday accused rich nations of being 'stingy,' bringing a rebuke from Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, who said Washington would do more on top of its initial $15m pledge. This is no time for bickering but the rich world should be generous with cash, humanitarian goods, skilled personnel and equipment.”
"Learning From Disaster"
The left-of-center Guardian commented (12/29): "It beggars belief that the government in Thailand, which had up to an hour to issue a warning, failed to do so--partly for fear of the effect on the country’s lucrative tourism industry, which of course is now in ruins. In a world with a cornucopia of fast and reliable communications systems, a coordinated alert allowing flight and evacuation should be easily possible. This is about familiarization, and resources, with casualties the highest in the poorest areas. Lessons must be learned and quickly applied.”
"Are We Really Helpless In The Face Of Nature--Or When Politicians Let Us Down?"
Deborah Orr commented in the center-left Independent (12/28): "In the absence of God's wrath as an explanation for awful events, our attempts to find meaning in natural cataclysm often sound trite.... Human beings...are powerful enough to be able to influence the future of our fellows, and of the planet itself. Many lives have already been lost in south Asia. But massive human intervention alone can save many more, and can alleviate, or even end, much suffering.... It can be ensured that the Indian Ocean, like the Pacific, is equipped with the wave sensors that would have picked up warnings of the tsunamis.... One trouble with our 'great advances of science and technology' is that they are far from well distributed around the planet.... In the long term, however, human responses to natural disasters, or to other humans in need, are far more complex. Our paralysis in the face of global warming is perhaps the most spectacular example of human inertia when challenged by disaster in an unknowable and therefore quite abstract form.... Consider the views of President George Bush, who has...remarkably promised to work with the UN to help those hit by disaster. Since this man is a towering enemy of worldwide hopes of combatting global warming and also an implacable enemy of the UN, this is significant.... Basically, the day before this disaster, the world was divided in just the same way--between those who need help and those in a position to offer it."
The left-of-center Guardian said (12/27): "Nature struck again.... The strongest earthquake in the world for 40 years struck under the sea north-west of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.... Massive sea surges (tsunamis) spread from its epicentre bringing death and destruction to the coastal areas of south and south-east Asian countries ringing the Indian Ocean.... The health hazards were obvious: the unburied bodies which will quickly decompose in tropical temperatures; water supplies polluted from both huge quantities of salt water sloshing around and overflowing sewage; plus already over-stretched and under-funded health systems.... Similarly, the nations face severe economic consequences, not least those especially dependent on tourists--such as Thailand, the Maldives and Sri Lanka--with the disruption and damage the tsunamis have wreaked on their frail infrastructures.... One issue which the international community must take up is whether a warning system, similar to what is already in operation in the Pacific, would have been of any help. An even more urgent challenge to the nations offering aid yesterday is whether they will honour their pledges.... There is always a difficulty for donors balancing emergency help with long-term strategic support, but a pledge is a pledge."
FRANCE: "Well-managed Charity"
Stephane Marchand opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/30): “International aid to the victims of the tsunami in Asia represents, among other things a diplomatic gesture, a political affirmation.... A country that gives proves its generosity in the eyes of international public opinion and asserts it standing in the world. I give therefore I count.... But beware of the contrary. A nation, powerful though it may be, that is perceived as indifferent or stingy will be harshly judged. The U.S. has just had a bitter taste of this fact.... When it became known that the most powerful country on the planet had promised 15 million dollars in aid to the victims of the tsunami, there was a general uproar. 15 million dollars is a ridiculous figure given the scope of the catastrophe.... 15 million dollars of less than half of what is bought in dog and cat food in the U.S. everyday. It is ten times less than the daily cost of the war in Iraq. It is half the price of a F16. The U.S. quickly decided to up the ante, but a serious mistake in terms of communication had already been made, which is especially dangerous when 5 billion television viewers are watching. America’s image of a superpower at times crushing and at times benevolent is at stake.... Of all of the industrialized nations, the U.S. is the one that contributes the least to poor countries. America is paying a high political price for this pitiful reputation.... Asia, and foremost Japan and China, have become the keystone of America’s economic and financial security. And that is priceless.”
"The People And The Misers"
Jean-Paul Pierot noted in communist l’Humanite (12/30): “The outbursts of generosity from ordinary citizens and NGOs has served to underscore the stinginess of the richest countries in the world.... After the scolding that Bush got for promising only 15 million dollars in aid to the victims of this catastrophe, he decided to add a miserable 20 million more. Is it really necessary to note once again that the cost of the war in Iraq exceeds 200 billion dollars? And once again the White House is proving its unilateralist tendency by proposing to create an international coalition (a copy of the one created for the war in Iraq) that it alone, without the UN, would manage to provide humanitarian assistance.”
The editorial in left-of-center Le Monde read (12/30): “The fact that the world has come together is due, in part, to the speed of information exchange today which lends a new dimension to solidarity. This also is globalization.... But this mobilization poses a certain number of problems. The first has to do with the relationship between promises and actions. While there is no doubt that charitable organizations will do their part and stand by their commitments, history has shown that governments and international governmental organizations tend not to be so rigorous. Of the billion dollars that were allotted to help the victims of the earthquake in Bam in 2003, only 17 million dollars have actually been received.... A certain degree of coordination is necessary to manage relief efforts… and only the UN has the capacity to implement this type of planning.”
"Lack Of Foresight"
Gerard Dupuy held in left-of-center Liberation (12/30): “With 100,000 bodies and millions of lives shattered the international community must admit to its lack of foresight and Bush is first on the list.... In terms of international cooperation, history is heading in the wrong direction.... Generosity is counter-productive if it does not also include a measure of foresight...and significant sums, that have nothing to do with the few million euros or dollars that have been allocated to the victims of the tsunami so far...will be needed to provide poor countries with earthquake detectors and decent communication networks.”
"The Babel Tower Of Despair"
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (12/29): “Terrorism and nature both make no distinction among their victims according to country of origin. They both guarantee death without a visa. In the ruins of the World Trade Center, the bodies of victims from over fifty different nationalities were found. When the cruel sea ebbed in the Indian Ocean last Sunday, thousands and thousands of bodies from all nations were left behind.... No natural catastrophe has ever represented a Tower of Babel of human despair and suffering as poignantly as this one. No other catastrophe has ever necessitated an international effort of this scale...that the UN qualifies as the most important since its creation 56 years ago.... The role of the UN, its undeniable nobility, is to coordinate the relief effort in this new war. At least it is a fair war, there is no room for discussion or hesitation. In this war there is no dominating superpower and the tragedy is globalized.”
"The Southeast Asian Lesson"
Yves Threard stated in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/29): “When nature is unfair, man is often the cause.... In this region of the world that lives for its tourist industry, excessive urbanization has thrown the balance of nature off kilter. There has been too much construction, anywhere and anyhow, regardless of the shore, the coral reefs or the mangroves.... Under-development also contributes to providing an explanation for the scope of this tragedy. Other countries situated in the Pacific Ocean, such as the U.S. and Japan, have been able to protect themselves from tidal waves.... These rich countries have been able to put in place sophisticated measures to ensure an early warning of earthquakes that poor countries cannot afford.... This should be ample proof of the usefulness of progress.... Progress is the only antidote on which man can count to face up to nature’s wrath. This disaster should incite nations to come together to find solutions, such as the Kyoto Protocol, to global warming; a Protocol that the U.S. continues to refuse to ratify. It should also promote greater dialogue between the North and the South because globalization will only become acceptable if riches and progress are shared.”
Patrick Sabatier noted in left-of-center Liberation (12/29): “We already know that the death toll will continue to grow if help is not urgently provided to the millions of survivors whose lives are threatened by a shortage of clean water, food and medical assistance. The planet is facing a humanitarian state of emergency...and this catastrophe is a pointer to globalization.... Help will have to be well coordinated in order to avoid corruption, often for political purposes, it will have to be controlled and centralized in order to avoid mismanagement. The question surrounding the creation of a global civilian protection organization within the framework of the UN and with the ability to react on a permanent basis anywhere in the world is once again on the table… Unfortunately the earthquake in Bam gives us little cause for optimism. Barely 1 percent of the billion dollars promised to Iran has been paid. One year after this catastrophe, the city has yet to be reconstructed.”
"The World As it Is"
Maurice Ulrich asserted in communist l’Humanite (12/29): “Europe has promised 3 million euros in aid. How is it possible that 25 countries that claim to stand on the same footing as other powers cannot come up with a more significant amount? When we know that Japan alone has promised 22 million euros! Europe must do more, much more, but its problem is in fact ‘constitutional.’ Europe was devised as a huge free trade zone and no provision was made regarding aid. But the tragedy in Asia is such that we must not be stopped by technicalities. And we do have to wonder if the international response to this catastrophe would have been as great if these huge waves had not wiped out the paradise vacation of westerners looking for sea and sun, and a great many other things, that can be found cheaply in this area of the world.... The lesson to draw is that today, cataclysms, cyclones and earthquakes have varying repercussions according to the area of the world in which they occur and that they serve to punish, to an unimaginable extent, under-development.”
GERMANY: "Long-term Projects For Asia"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich noted (12/30): "A UN professional like the Norwegian Jan Egeland should have known better that provocations in the time of need cause more damage than they help. He asked why rich countries are so stingy, pointing his finger to the U.S. in particular. He might be right that the current pledges of donor countries are not sufficient to deal with the catastrophe in the Indian Ocean, but it is a fact that the industrial nations have continuously increased their aid in recent days. Washington has also signaled that it will enhance its vow. However, there will never be enough money to cope with such a disaster. The more important it is that the tight budget will be most cleverly spent."
"World Domestic Policy"
Sven Hansen commented in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (12/30): "The UN has now the chance to show that it is not useless but an indispensable organization that must be strengthened. Maybe it is helpful that the catastrophe happened far off the U.S., which is not known to be an advocate of international cooperation. The U.S. can get involved now, but it will not be a dominant player, who dictates the conditions. It is an international catastrophe, which can create confidence and strengthen global structures if it were jointly approached."
"For Years To Come"
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine editorialized (12/30): "The German government reacted appropriately to the misery, which cannot be expressed in wording or pictures. Its immediate measures showed that the Berlin crisis management is capable of mobilizing the necessary personnel and technical resources in an emergency, sending water treatment plants, medical equipment, and transport planes to crisis regions, as well as coordinating the organization with other countries. It did not just make symbolic gestures. It was positive that there was no photo opportunity with the Foreign Minister at the place of the catastrophe.... To help those who survived will be a challenge for years to come, Chancellor Schroeder said. We must not only help victims in the region, but also German children who became orphans and parents who lost their children."
"The Hour Of The UN"
Mariam Lau judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (12/29): "When trying to answer the question of who should now cope with the Herculean task of coordinating disaster relief efforts, we come up with an institution which many declared dead before. This is now up to the UN, and in the form of a team of 170 experts, it has taken over this task. Its weaknesses in conflicting regions are legion, but in this context, it turns out to be its strength: diplomacy, help for self-help, cooperation instead of unilateralism, it will now benefit from all this. It is an inestimable advantage that it does not make a difference between autocratic and democratic governments. Those who are ostracized, do not cooperate. A success of the rescue mission in the Indian Ocean does not make a profound UN reform superfluous. But one thing is certain: The UN is still needed."
Center-left Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein-Zeitung of Essen opined (12/29): "The number of missing and killed people is rising hour by hour. The TV pictures of the consequences of the flood disaster in South Asia show a never-ending degree of human suffering that is barely bearable. Now it is important that the region gets quick and comprehensive assistance. In view of the unimaginable size of this disaster, the world can now prove that globalization is more than unbridled capitalism or a cell-phone call from an any part in the world. Now it is necessary to move together, to show solidarity all over the world with the people who, despite the revenue from tourism, do not belong to the wealthy and protected in the world. In view of this misery, there may not be a First, Second, or Third World, but only our world."
Right-of-center Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung of Heidelberg argued (12/29): "It is impossible to prevent natural disasters, but one is not exposed to the consequences for mater or worse. Many casualties in South Asia could have been prevented if the countries in the region were not ruled by corrupt and autocratic governments. India, for instance, is investing its money in destructive nuclear programs instead of making its coasts safer. In the technically modernized Malaysia there is no Tsumani early warning system, but many shopping paradises. But regardless of whether we deal with land mines that were now swept into the sea in Sri Lanka or whether we deal with impoverished fishermen in Thailand...there is always a reason caused by man that is responsible for unnecessary suffering."
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine editorialized (12/29): "In the coming days, news reports on killed people will reach us.... Thousands of next to kin are vacillating between hope and despair and will learn the names of countries and places of which they would have never have known before where they are situated. They will also learn that there was no tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean as exists in the Pacific Ocean. They will wonder why this is so and what this has to do with shortcomings and mismanagement in these two apparently separated regions. The more they will think about it, the more obvious it will be that it is not only elevated rhetoric when it is now said that assistance for Southeast Asia must be the task for the whole world."
Centrist Suedkurier of Konstanz said (12/29): "It is now up to the international community to work on its risk management. There are many ways and means to keep the consequences of natural disasters as small as possible. Early warning systems will help minimize risks and states like India must allow the question why an arms race is more important than the protection of its citizens from flood waves. International cooperation can also help contribute to adjusting to natural dangers. But in this field the allegedly so powerful globalization failed."
Peter Sturm argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/27): "The crisis management is difficult because so many countries are involved. Comprehensive international aid is necessary. Let's hope the distribution will be well coordinated to help all victims. Concerning all political organizations in question, the United Nations must play a vital role, but the world has not had good experiences with the UN. Regional organizations, such as ASEAN and SAARC, could now prove their potential."
"The Power Of The Planet"
Norbert Lossau commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (12/27): "Not just the extent of the catastrophe is horrific, but also the fact that we are totally helpless in such natural disasters. No human failure or deficient construction can be blamed. There is no enemy who can serve as a reason. But this also means that there is no hope that disasters like this one can be prevented in the future."
"Donations And Responsibility"
Center-right Thueringische Landeszeitung of Weimar observed (12/27): "Calling upon our readiness to make donations is not about sympathy but it is about bearing responsibility. It is also our fault that so many people live so close to the sea, because we like hotels at the beach. But during our vacation, we do not want to think about the dangers looming in the depth of the sea. As a result, more and more people moved to the sea where they could find jobs. The opportunity to earn money conceals the hostility of the sea. The quake in Asia might be unprecedented in modern history. But old people knew about the monster waves and called them tsunami."
"A Litmus Test"
Regional Suedkurier of Konstanz noted (12/27): "The tragedy might become the litmus test for the governments of the affected countries and their cooperation. The leaders in Southeast Asia have not always shown that the well being of their citizens regardless of their religion and origin is their priority. Natural risks, poverty and social tensions are fatally correlated. It is a challenge for the whole world to break such vicious cycles. Especially because nature does not know justice, people must help each other."
ITALY: "Bush: An Asian Aid Coalition"
Maurizio Molinari wrote in centrist, influential La Stampa (12/30): “Breaking three days of silence, George W. Bush announced a package of measures that will make America the leader of ‘a world aid coalition’...thereby relegating the UN to fund collection.... Bush’s initiative goes beyond a response to UN aid coordinator Jan Egeland’s accusations. He has placed the U.S. in a leading role for humanitarian aid efforts, overshadowing the UN, normally in charge of coordinating aid efforts. By taking on the responsibility of creating a coalition for humanitarian relief, the U.S. Administration wants to show...that Washington is capable of carrying out operations faster and more efficiently than the UN.”
"The UN Sermon"
An editorial in elite, classical liberal Il Foglio read (12/30): “Few things are salvageable at the UN, but one of them is the humanitarian aid agencies.... There is evidently one reason why the humanitarian agencies are not as in bad shape as the Security Council or the General Assembly: U.S. commitment. Washington pays for 22 percent of the UN’s budget.... This year Washington donated well over 2 billion dollars to humanitarian aid.... Shortly following the quake in Asia, Washington...pledged 35 million dollars and provided Navy ships and aircraft.... No other country did as much.... Yet Jan Egeland, a Norwegian UN bureaucrat, accused the U.S. of scant generosity because it is too busy cutting taxes. This Scandinavian official should note that it is thanks to those fiscal policies that U.S. citizens donate 34 billion dollars a year--ten times the UN’s yearly budget.”
Piero Ostellino contended in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/29): “It is peculiar that UN Undersecretary Jan Egeland used the Asian catastrophe as a pretext to accuse the U.S. and other capitalist countries of being ‘obsessed by tax cutting policies,’ and consequently of 'stinginess’ in delivering aid to those people.... Colin Powell did well to tone down the matter by manifesting his regret and announcing that the U.S. has already pledged 15 million dollars...and by mentioning that in the last four years the U.S. has contributed more aid than any other country or group of countries.”
"The Irony Of The Catastrophe"
Sergio Romano concluded in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/29): “Natural calamities are political events as well. As cold though the question may seem, we must ask ourselves what the repercussions on Asia will be. Will it lead the regimes of the stricken countries to reconsider their positions? Will it fuel the anger of Third World countries given the adoption on the part of many of the ‘capitalist’ model? Will it strengthen...fundamentalist cells? Will the tidal wave be followed by an anti-globalization and anti-western wave?.... The tidal wave has highlighted dramatic contradictions. Thailand and Indonesia have a stock market, a banking system, foreign investors, and flourishing industries. But they don’t have warning systems, civil defense, and modern healthcare facilities. They can double their GNP in twenty years, but they are not capable of protecting their citizens.”
"Someone Calls, Nobody Answers"
Alberto Negri observed in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (12/29): “What is threatening humanity? Could a world government save it, limit catastrophes and the damage that goes along with them?.... Natural disasters have not put an end to man’s race.... The tsunami in the Indian Ocean has tragically underscored the disparity between two worlds, the scientific and technological one and the ‘other world’ comprised of underdeveloped countries.... Poverty, often accompanied by ignorance, is the root of many of humanity’s ills. Poverty hampers the sharing of scientific progress, the ability to set up the necessary equipment to tackle perils.... The rich and knowledgeable survive, the poor die. Is this a lesson...we can accept?.... We have already tried giving ourselves a world government with the UN. We must give it credibility, substance and adequate funds in order to narrow the gap between the two worlds.”
RUSSIA: "The Wave Of Charity"
Vladimir Dzaguto and Alexei Slobodin observed in reformist Vremya Novostei (12/30): "Humankind is living through one of the most tragic disasters in its history. And it is not only about the staggering number of dead. Most states hit by the huge tidal wave are unlikely to be able to restore their economies, help the homeless families and bring back to normality the lives of the people who lost their relatives and their livelihoods within minutes. But oddly enough, the great tragedy may have some positive consequences. In the early 21st century the main ideological base that unites mankind is the fight against terrorism. But complete unity has not and could not have been achieved. By no means everyone was prepared to unite with the United States to fight Al Qaeda, bin Laden and Saddam. Much of the Muslim world, and not only the Muslim world, thinks that the No. 1 enemy is not international terrorism, but Western civilization and its main proponent, the US. The tragedy in the Indian Ocean offers a unique opportunity to unite mankind in defending itself against a common disaster for which neither religion nor politics are to blame."
"A Season Of Great Disaster"
Eduard Gushchin wrote in centrist Trud (12/29): "The international community is mounting an unprecedented operation to bring relief to the countries affected. Tens of UN experts are on their way to the disaster zone. Hundreds of local volunteers and thousands of representatives of NGOs, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent, are delivering first aid. Tens of thousands of civil defense staff, soldiers, police and municipal workers are helping to clear the aftermath of the disaster. Hundreds of planes with humanitarian cargoes from a score of countries are heading for Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and other stricken countries. Many rescue groups and medical teams are also on their way. Experts say it is necessary to bury the victims and destroy the carcasses of animals quickly before contamination of drinking water sets in."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Imbalance"
Pavel Verner held in center-left Pravo (12/30): "In connection with so much and detailed close media attention to the catastrophe in Southern Asia (and, on the other hand, the utmost negligence reminded by the tenth anniversary of one of the most brutal ethnic, racial killing in Rwanda), I wonder how much attention would the current rage of elements in Asia have generated if it had not happened in the center of world tourism and if its victims had not also been European, American, and Australian tourists, but only poor local natives."
"U.N.: Test By Tsunami"
Patricie Polanska commented in business-oriented Hospodarske Noviny (12/30): "The UN is preparing for the biggest operation in its history of providing aid to regions afflicted by natural disasters [the tsunamis in southeast Asia].... The UN is fighting against time as the region is short of water and food and epidemics may erupt in a matter of days. The call to action that the UN must now show in helping Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and other afflicted regions can serve as an argument in debates on its future capabilities which will continue in 2005 as well."
"After Tsunami, Time Has Come For The UN...Will It Pass The Test?"
William Buchert opined in leading, centrist MF Dnes (12/30): "It is now a question whether the UN, torn by its tense relations with the U.S. and the scandal around the past Iraqi oil-for-food program, will prove itself in one of the heaviest tests over the past years.... The UN should get the chance to show that claims that it is formal, stiff and redundant need not always be true."
"Bigger Quakes Can Yet Come"
Jiri Sedivy warned in center-right Lidove Noviny (12/29): "Looking at the geopolitical map of Southeast Asia hit by the devastating catastrophe, one cannot resist fears that it may be followed by a series of more tremors, this time political and social, which can have far-reaching impacts on regional stability and global security. By devilish coincidence, some of the most stricken countries in the region have been for a long time afflicted by ethnically or religiously motivated violence, separatism, guerrilla wars and terrorism."
"Aid Provided To Countries Afflicted By Natural Disasters Suffers Old Mistakes"
Pavel Masa fumed in center-right Lidove noviny (12/28): "Climatic changes result in growing numbers of disasters while the reaction by most international agencies is unchangeable. The repeated scenario is that countries promise aid in the reconstruction of the country and consequently fail to fulfill their promises.... The locals usually manage the immediate rescue activities best and more effectively than outsiders. Aid should mainly be focused at prevention (stable buildings resistant to earthquakes, warning systems) and subsequent long-term reconstruction. In less developed countries, disasters claim eight times more lives than in states that can afford to build up protection against them. ‘Help others help themselves’ is already a trite axiom that unfortunately has yet to be implemented. We will hopefully live to see the moment when at least a united Europe will prove that this is not so simply because long-term projects, unlike dramatic aid in moments of high tension, are less 'sexy' from the point of view of short-winded political marketing."
IRELAND: "Challenge For Humanity"
The center-right populist Irish Independent observed (12/29): "An intriguing proposal is that a major relief force should be kept on standby at all times, ready to fly to the scene of necessity at a moment's notice. The need for such a device has not been proved. In this crisis, the agencies have reacted with their usual speed and efficiency.... However, it remains to be seen how many lives can be saved. The area to be covered is vast, and the difficulties exceptional. When the time comes for assessment, it may be found that a gain or loss of as little as 24 hours could have made a huge difference. That time will come very soon, and so will the time for the transition from emergency action to rebuilding in a region that has suffered economic damage.... Here there is a problem which is constantly glossed over for political reasons. After every major disaster, money is allocated which is either not drawn down, or does not reach the intended target, or is simply stolen. It enriches corrupt regimes while earthquake victims remain homeless decades after the event. This time, if the emergency and long-term aid reaches the right quarters, it will be a great moment. It will show that, for once, humanity can match a genius for destruction with a capacity for reconstruction.”
"A Warning For Us All"
The center-right populist Irish Independent declared (12/29): "Even a country like Thailand, comparatively affluent and well governed at least by South-east Asian standards, failed to alert its people until hopelessly late in the day although a timely warning had been issued. It came from Australian scientists who...issued alerts to 26 countries. But most had no procedures in place to respond. In some cases the scientists did not know whom they should contact. This was a shocking example of underdevelopment which may have cost thousands of lives. It need not have happened. Happily, it need not recur. The Australians, and probably the Americans, will help governments that wish to provide early-alert systems. A few million dollars will be well spent.... Abroad, we can play our part in an international effort to alleviate the effects of climate change. A generation ago, we thought Indonesia very far away. No longer.”
"A Reminder Of Nature's Power"
The center-left Irish Times said (12/27): "The tragedy underscores also the smallness of the planet upon which we all live. Here is drama on the other side of the world, affecting places that, less than a generation ago, were visited rarely by most Europeans. Today, however, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand--all seriously affected--are common destinations for many different types of visitors.... The death toll in this awful event is rising and will surely rise further. It will be some time before the full extent of casualties is known from more remote parts.... This is above all a tragedy for the local people of the countries most affected. Behind the coastal strips of luxury resort hotels there were many flimsy structures, homes to families of modest means. The Government's promise of €1 million compares favorably with the €4 million offered by the EU as a whole, but we must be willing to give more if needed.”
NORWAY: "Right Help To The Right Place"
Social-democratic Dagsavisen maintained (12/30): "The catastrophe in South Asia, the largest the world has known, has created an enormous need for help to the affected areas.... The number of dead rises, at the same time that millions of people have an acute need for help. Even more important is that the right help comes to the right place. Help organizations stream in now with their emergency aid.... It is therefore critical that someone takes leadership… When the first, acute emergency has been responded to, the next phase of reconstruction and reparations comes.... It is in this phase that the world easily forgets its promises because new events other places shift their attention. This has happened again and again, something that yet again underscores the need for the UN to have a central role in the administration of aid.”
"Strengthened Emergency Preparedness"
Independent Dagbladet opined (12/30): "It is not hard to understand that people who are affected by the biggest natural catastrophe in modern time want fast relief from the authorities of their respective countries.... There is also no reason not to bring into action absolutely all forces to help the victims and get them home immediately, even if they have escaped the catastrophe alive. The question is if it is reasonable to assume that the world’s small and large nations could have managed to launch an emergency preparedness that functioned 100 percent from day one, when the majority of us who were not in the areas hit by the catastrophe could barely grasp the extent of the disruption.... We have to understand that the fear, sorrow and shock can come out as anger in those who were part of the inferno on the beaches of South East Asia this Christmas.”
"The Reaction To The Catastrophe"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten declared (12/30): "It is not hard to understand that it would have had to take some time to obtain anything close to an overview of the number of dead and to organize a rescue-and-rebuilding operation. This is also not the base of the criticism that is now being raised of the foreign service in the three Scandinavian countries. However, it is legitimate to ask if the governments in Denmark, Sweden and Norway spent a bit too much time trying to get a clear picture of the extent, not just of the actual catastrophe, but also of the acute need for help that citizens of the respective countries had in a desperate emergency situation. The understanding of the need for a quick reaction took too much time.”
"Catastrophe Of Another Dimension"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten remarked (12/29): "This is a catastrophe of another dimension. It illustrates how incredibly thin the line between joy and despair can be, between a normal day and the destruction of an existence.... Together with the single countries and international aid organizations it is the UN that has to coordinate the emergency aid.... But one initiative must now be carried out soon: a warning system for tsunamis in the Indian Sea, just like the one that already exists for the Pacific region.... This unusually strong earthquake was registered more than two hours before the tidal wave hit Sri Lanka and India, and there can be little doubt that many lives could have been saved if the information had been spread through methods of modern communications technology. Here awaits a task for the global community.”
"Money Should Not Be An Issue"
Independent Dagbladet commented (12/29): "Rarely have so many experienced a catastrophe. Rarely has the feeling of living on the same planet been stronger, precisely because thousands of tourists can report from the drama and the destruction. Money should in other words not be the issue. And this should be stated by the most influential leaders in our time. In this type of situation, single countries’ skepticism and disbelief in the UN-system and its leadership should be put aside. Now it is about standing together to solve joint problems that have been caused by forces to which we are all powerless.”
"A Global Catastrophe"
Independent VG editorialized (12/27): "There are no warning systems for earthquakes in the Indian Ocean of the type that one has in the Pacific. Probably because they haven’t been plagued by that type of quake and the resulting tidal waves, so-called tsunamis, in that area. But nature changes and a debate about responsibility, warning systems and reasons will now come. On the Maldives.... President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has long warned against the dangerous effects that global warning, erosion and shifting climate patterns can have for such low-lying island groups. That the ocean is rising is of course a great threat against areas where the natural height above sea level is not more than two and a half meters. This is in every way a natural catastrophe of global dimensions. It will therefore be the entire world community’s responsibility to offer all the help that is necessary in the time to come.”
TURKEY: "It Is Like A Massacre"
Umur Talu contended in mass-appeal Sabah (12/30): “The deaths of thousands in a natural disaster always brings a discussion about whether the death toll could have been decreased. But this disaster did not stem only from natural causes--there is a human factor here as well. The failure to save thousands of lives in Sri Lanka and India is simply the result of poverty and ignorance. The tsunami early alert system for the Pacific Ocean (Tsunami Alert Center for the Pacific), which is run from the U.S., was unable to spread the word in time to India and Sri Lanka, because they were not member states and because the quake happened in the Indian Ocean, not in the Pacific. When you look at it this way, you can clearly see that the lack of security from natural forces around the world is, to a a certain extent, man-made.”
"Thanks To The Tourists"
Sami Kohen asserted in mass-appeal Milliyet (12/30): “One wonders if the Asian quake would have gained such international attention had large numbers of foreign tourists not been in the disaster region. Fortunately, global tourism has led to a massive assistance effort and support for the disaster areas.... However, the current support and attention is not enough. Millions of dollars are needed to heal the wounds and fight against famine and disease, but the disaster regions have governments with severe financial limitations. Assistance from the West world has started to flow, but has not yet reached a satisfactory level.... An international mechanism under UN leadership should have been established for more immediate reaction to this kind of disaster. Unfortunately, this has never been done.”
"The Power Of Nature Cannot Be Overcome, But…"
Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (12/28): “The devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in South Asia once again reminded us of the colossal power of nature and the helplessness of human beings. There is no way to stop natural disasters like this, but there are ways to arrange early warning systems that could reduce the number of casualties. Unlike in North America and the Pacific, South Asian countries do not have an early warning system that might have helped to save lives in this disaster.... South Asia grieves and tries to heal its wounds, but still suffers from insufficient health services and a lack of food. The international community is sending condolences and promises of assistance. When Iran experienced the terrible earthquake in Bam that claimed 30,000 lives, the international community promised a billion dollars in aid, but in the end only 17 million dollars was given. Oddly enough, when it comes to arms, billions are spent without any hesitation.”
ISRAEL: "Our Finest Hour"
Eytan Haber opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (12/29): "Even if there are some hitches here and there, it seems that there are few countries in the world that come to the aid of their citizens the way Israel does. The great America shrugs its shoulders. France drowns in champagne and frog legs as the screens show appalling sights. Oy, they say, and move on to their business. Not us...The Americans have 1,000 workers in their embassy in Thailand, and it is easy for them to get organized and send five of them to the airport to welcome arrivals. Israel has six workers, and they have to stretch themselves thin. Albeit the concern of those rescued and their families is understandable, and the strain that is part of their lives at this time justifies their outbursts and rage, but when the storm abates, they too will realize that it is not exactly the job of the State of Israel to find their children who have gone on a trip, and all its actions in its handling and rescuing Israelis are a 'bonus' to Israeli citizens simply because they are Israeli. There is (almost) no other country like this in the world."
"South Asia And Us"
The conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/29): "The enormous loss of life around the Indian Ocean rim is partly a human failure too.... South Asian nations are not anywhere as affluent [as the U.S. and Japan], which is their excuse for having wasted so much time postponing expenditure on tsunami alert devices. They couldn't even agree on whether these are worthwhile.... Lest we too patronizingly criticize others, however, we should pay attention to natural menaces of our own. We must not ignore our dangers as the countries of South Asia ignored theirs.... Experts warn [Israel] to expect a major quake (above 7 on the Richter Scale) sometime within the next 50 years. It could happen any day and, if of a devastating magnitude and in a lethally close location, no part of the country would be safe.... But talk and blueprints are no substitute for action.... Yes, dispensing more than advice costs money--and we have more pressing needs. So, too, did India, Indonesia et al.... We can't be sure when the next quake will come. We can determine how prepared we are to survive it."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Challenges Of Relief"
The pro-government English-language Arab News declared (12/29): "It will take some time before we get any idea of what the disaster on Sunday...has left behind.... The international community faces the urgent and awesome problem of millions of people whose homes and livelihoods have been swept away. The devastation has clearly been massive. In the Maldives, the cost of the damage is going to be greater than a year of the islands’ gross domestic product.... The challenge this time is that help is needed across a large region which includes many states and countries. Many outside the region have announced the immediate dispatch of aid...to help local governments deal with the horrific consequences.... The challenge, however, is for these assistance flows to be coordinated and directed to where they are most needed. This job has to fall upon the disaster relief coordinators of the UN.... The most pressing need at the moment is to sustain the ravaged communities, help with the treatment of the tens of thousands of injured, ensure the availability of food, water and shelter, especially with isolated island populations, and clear up the destruction while finding and removing the dead in order to prevent outbreaks of disease.... Once that is done, attention must turn quickly to helping these devastated communities rebuild their shattered lives. This will require financial assistance.... The task is as awesome as the tragedy that spawned it.... Lessons however must be learned. The argument for a permanent international disaster relief force has surely been strengthened."
JORDAN: "The Asia Disaster And America’s Suspicious Stand"
Ibrahim Absi wrote in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (12/30): “Because the assistance declared by filthy rich countries, like the U.S. and the EU, was not up to standard in relation to the horrible disaster that befell a number of south and south-east Asian countries...the UN assistance official lost his temper and accused these countries of being thrifty and irresponsible.... How can we understand the U.S. claims of being responsible for peace and security in this world, when the tsunami disaster has threatened peace and security in Southeast Asia? How can we understand the fact that the U.S. sets up military airlifts costing billions of dollars to strike one country or another, but keeps quiet when it comes to salvaging what is left of these Asian countries that were struck by a first-class humanitarian disaster? Maybe the U.S. only moves when it has a vital interest to serve.... We have the right to ask such questions. We also have the right to demand that, after this disaster, the U.S. stops its talk about moral, humanitarian and democratic responsibility towards the people of this world, since it bases its humanitarian positions on double standards: one for Anglo-Saxon people, including Zionists, and the other for Muslim people, who are not worth helping as far as the U.S. is concerned. Having said that, why do the other Asian and Muslim countries themselves not move to come to the aid of the suffering Asian countries, since the U.S. refuses to provide ample assistance?”
QATAR: "Tsunami Crisis Is Only Beginning"
The semi-official English-language Gulf Times editorialized (12/28): "The calamity that has befallen Asia is so awful it is beyond imagination.... The immediate death toll, however, is only the first stage in a tragedy that will unfold over the weeks and months to come. There are reports of tangled piles of corpses--human, animal and fish--strewn amid the detritus in coastal areas. These will add to the contamination of the groundwater and wells that has already resulted.... Sickness and disease will follow and could take a heavier toll than the initial impact of the tsunami.... Even after the immediate hygiene and health issues have been dealt with, the economic impact of the disaster will linger for years.... Tourism, which has become a major source of employment in the region, will be crippled for months or longer.... The worst-hit countries--Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the low-lying Maldives – urgently need aid to cope with what has happened and to help their people to rebuild their lives. We hope that all governments and institutions that are able to will provide the necessary assistance to the affected nations. There is no time to waste: outbreaks of disease are expected within days and could spread rapidly."
UAE: "A Worldwide Catastrophe"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News maintained (12/28): "The earthquake off the coast of Sumatra on Sunday, followed by a catastrophic tsunami, may not go down in history as causing the greatest loss of life, but it will certainly rank high for the largest number of deaths over the widest region. Now, as Asian countries take stock and other nations look on in shock and horror at the death and devastation caused, questions are already being asked as to how such loss of life could have been averted, if at all. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Honolulu claims it had 15 minutes advance warning of the earthquake, and could have given an hour or more notice to the more remote countries of the possibility of an advancing tsunami. Places like Sri Lanka and Somalia could have benefited from such information, but apparently the Warning Centre did not know who to pass such information on to. Perhaps it is incidents like these that will assist in creating greater collaboration and warning between nations on crises and natural disasters of all types.... It is prompt action that will save lives from the risk of diseases through contamination. Offers of help are welcome, action is more positive and effective.... A force of nature, equivalent to a million atomic bombs the size of those dropped on Japan in the Second World War, was sufficient to disturb the Earth's rotation. In the face of such overwhelming odds, all that mankind can do is pick up the pieces."
AUSTRALIA: "Nature's Awful Power To Harm"
The conservative national Australian held (12/28): "Nothing in our national history of natural disaster compares to the catastrophe now inflicted on our Asian neighbours.... We must mourn the death of our neighbours and do whatever we can for the many, many more people in Indonesia and India, Thailand, Burma, the Maldives, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, whose lives and livelihoods will be dramatically disrupted.... The sheer scope of this catastrophe offers a salutory if unsettling lesson on the irrelevance of human endeavour in the face of nature. This disaster is the result of forces operating on a scale difficult to grasp.... Could its impact have been contained? For Australians, the idea that sometimes the state is powerless to protect us from the impact and consequences of natural disaster is unacceptable. We assume warnings of trouble to come and assistance to help people from harm's way will always be there.... But there is no case for thinking that coastal communities could all have been saved by earlier warning. The grim message from this disaster is that we can ignore the power of nature when it suits us--but we cannot escape it."
"In Times Of Disaster, Our Duty Is To Help"
The liberal Melbourne-based Age observed (12/28): "While relief efforts have already begun, recovery from the Asian tsunamis will be the work of years.... The scale of the tragedy renders nationalities and borders almost irrelevant; such a disaster unites the world in shock and grief. The world also shares responsibility for helping those left behind.... The Indian Ocean nations do not have a joint warning system. Thus populations in the path of the tsunamis could not readily be alerted.... They paid a terrible price for the political failure to emulate the example of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. Australia should help set up an Indian Ocean warning system...surely no nation can now tolerate the lack of such a system.... It will be to Australia's diplomatic advantage to provide aid, but such calculations pale against the humanitarian imperative.... The enormity of such human tragedy strikes at our being. The only remotely adequate way to respond is to reach out and help the survivors in whatever way we can."
"Limits To Denting Nature's Forces"
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald asserted (12/27): "The havoc and tragedy unleashed by tsunamis to Australia's north naturally set alarm bells ringing. For all we have learnt about these ferocious natural phenomenons, why is it we cannot better protect ourselves from their devastation? A world which 35 years ago put men on the moon must surely have the wherewithal to block or avoid a wall of seawater."
CHINA (HONG KONG): "Tsunami Tragedy Felt Around The Globe"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (12/28): "Promises of help for the (Tsunami tragedy) victims were swiftly made by many nations including the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and Australia. The EU and the UN have also responded quickly ... But the scale of this disaster means aid will be needed long after the immediate impact has been dealt with. The effort must be sustained. The tragedy struck a year to the day after a terrible earthquake in Iran. Many promises of aid were made at the time, but only a fraction was forthcoming. And the town of Bam is still struggling.... Communities hit by Sunday's quake will have to be rebuilt, from humble fishing fleets to multimillion-dollar tourist industries. In a matter of minutes, the waves swept away not only human lives but the livelihoods of many who survived.... Consideration must also be given to whether anything could have been done to limit the impact of this disaster. An earthquake of this magnitude has not unleashed its forces on the world for 40 years. It was completely unexpected. And tsunami are rarely experienced in the region.... There is little, perhaps, that the governments concerned could have done to ensure that they were better prepared. But some of them--notably Sri Lanka and India--do not belong to an international early warning system that warns of approaching tsunami.... Thailand is a member, but early warning devices were not in place on the west coast where they might have helped.... Tragically, the high cost of the equipment and low risk of a tsunami attack appear to have persuaded some governments in the region that joining the network would not be worthwhile. Now, they must think again."
"Developed Countries Have Responsibility To Establish Civilian Early Warning System"
Independent Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily News declared (12/28): "Because most of the countries in the Indian Ocean area do not have an early warning system, the U.S. Pacific Ocean Tsunami Warning Center recorded the earthquake but was unable to contact the related departments in the affected countries to send out the warning and evacuate their citizens. The head of the Tsunami Warning Center located in Hawaii said this was a resource issue because the area being monitored is so big and involves so much investment, most developing countries don't have adequate resources for necessary monitoring equipment. There is therefore a knowledge vacuum in this area. Since we are now all living in a global village, it is obvious that we need developed countries to consider establishing a tsunami warning system in the Pacific-Indian Ocean area so that human casualties caused by natural disasters can be minimized. In this way, globalization can show its true value."
"Rich Countries Should Help Poor Countries To Establish Warning System"
Chinese-language center-left Hong Kong Daily News said (12/28): "The most shocking fact is the U.S. was able to predict the approaching tsunami, but because India and Sri Lanka are not in the region covered by the warning system, they were not informed. Some poor countries lack resources to install the warning system, allowing numerous lives to be washed away.... Developed countries with advanced research on natural disasters should not look on with their hands in their pockets while hundreds of thousands of lives are taken away by the tsunami, all because poor countries lack the resources to buy the equipment needed."
Chinese-language center-right Oriental Daily News opined (12/28): "The sudden tsunami disaster was precisely a touchstone testing a government's adaptability and degree of concern for the people.... Hong Kong has always been disappointing in this respect, and the performance this time was greatly insufficient.... Regardless of geographical position or material conditions, Hong Kong is not as bad as the mainland, but in this great disaster caused by the tsunami, its response was actually shameful."
TAIWAN: "Lessons from a Disaster"
The pro-independence English-language Taipei Times declared (12/28): "Taiwan's disaster response mechanism must be upgraded in view of the terrible situation playing out in South Asia. The Central Weather Bureau must be able to immediately notify the public of earthquakes and tsunamis through collaboration with seismological and marine authorities in other countries to evacuate people at risk. The Ministry of the Interior should also include tsunamis as part of its disaster response drill. Disaster response units should draft a plan regarding tsunami alert sirens and emergency evacuation as soon as possible."
JAPAN: "Major Relief Operations Needed"
Liberal Asahi insisted (12/30): "The international community must make utmost efforts to help victims of Sunday's tsunami disaster.... International relief operations for one of the worst natural disasters ever will have a significant impact on the future of affected regions, as well as on the rest of the international community. Without a swift recovery, devastated areas will likely face economic and political uncertainty. More than 20 countries have already pledged support for humanitarian aid and other forms of relief. We hope relations will improve between donors and recipients, as seen in the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey, when Athens put aside its differences with Ankara by providing relief assistance.... Aid for tsunami-affected regions will likely continue for some time. We must keep in mind that relief operations will require a long-term commitment."
"Possible Use Of ODA In Natural Disasters"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (12/28): "Earthquakes are not a new phenomena to countries facing the Indian Ocean. But most of the nations in the region lack precautionary measures against tsunamis due to domestic and financial difficulties. The international community, including Japan, has started to provide emergency assistance by dispatching personnel to affected areas. Medical and food aid is urgently needed. After immediate needs are met, however, long-term measures should also be implemented. Official assistance to developing nations could be used to help local residents better prepare for natural disasters."
"Japan Should Provide Utmost Support"
Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri remarked (12/28): "Japan should provide as much assistance as possible, including medical support, for nations affected by Sunday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami. With the help of other nations, Japan should study the establishment of monitoring and warning systems in the Indian Ocean."
"International Alert Network Should Be Established"
Conservative Sankei advised (12/28): "The scale of destruction caused by this weekend's devastating tsunami was more serious than expected due to inadequate natural disaster measures taken by most South Asian nations. The tsunami alert system used in the Pacific Rim should be expanded to other areas, including the Indian Ocean region, in order to reduce potential damage from such natural disasters."
"Japan Should Play Leading Role"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun commented (12/28): "Pacific Rim nations established the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii in order to deal with natural disasters. A similar monitoring system should be set up in the Indian Ocean region. Japan, as a leading nation in earthquake studies, should play a leading role in the establishment and operation of such an entity by providing necessary data and personnel for regional efforts."
"Are Japan's Safety Measures Sufficient?"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai insisted (12/28): "The GOJ should review its tsunami safety measures to check whether they are sufficient. The lack of an international network in coastal areas hit by Sunday's catastrophic tsunami is extremely unfortunate. A warning system would surely have lessened the damage suffered by many South Asian nations. Pacific Rim nations have been successful in establishing an international network to issue tidal wave alerts, and Japan is also conducting high-level studies into the matter. However, the GOJ must make continued efforts to increase public awareness of natural disasters in order to limit the impact of such calamities."
"Japan Should Share Tsunami Knowledge"
Liberal Mainichi maintained (12/28): "Nations hit by Sunday's massive tsunami had no preventive measures to deal with tidal waves. Japan, a witness to several large-scale earthquakes, should use its expertise to help Asian nations to adopt precautionary measures."
INDONESIA: "Solidarity For Acehnese"
Leading independent Kompas advised (12/28): "The disaster which has destroyed buildings, belongings, and human lives in five South Asian countries has also aroused the world's solidarity. Every nation, country, and institution has stood up to lend a hand. The effects of the earthquake and tsunami have not only been global, instant, and simultaneous, but also interactive."
"United In Crisis"
The independent, English-language Jakarta Post maintained (12/28): "Sunday's calamity...was the most powerful tremor recorded around the globe in over 40 years. The towering tidal waves that ensued--and which caused the majority of deaths--were rare occurrences in the Indian Ocean.... Even if there had been an early warning system...it would not have made much difference to Indonesia: We would not have had the time to warn the people in northern Sumatra of the impending disaster.... The disaster is horrific.... With natural disasters, we cannot blame anyone in particular--not even God--nor can we pinpoint their exact cause.... Foreign aid is most welcome and is vital, but it is usually available as immediate relief operations and medical/food aid, but not beyond.... For most survivors, the real challenge begins once they have overcome their grief and shock...as they go about the heartrending task of rebuilding their homes and shattered lives. It is the responsibility of the Indonesian people and their government to provide the sorely needed long-term support. The calamity that struck our countrymen in Aceh and North Sumatra is too big for them to face alone.... As we help the survivors of Aceh and North Sumatra to rebuild their lives, we will be helping this nation to build a future."
"This Nation, The World Cry"
Semarang-based economic-political Suara Merdeka editorialized (12/28): "The earthquake which caused the tsunami with the epicentre in Aceh has destroyed everything. Human lives have seemingly been meaningless.... This nation and the international community have cried together."
"Aid For Aceh"
Surabaya-based independent Jawa Pos declared (12/28): "Whatever can be done must soon be carried out.... As a consequence, what is needed right now is solidarity, togetherness, empathy, sympathy, and voluntary social actions to help our fellow countrymen who have become the tsunami victims."
MALAYSIA: "Rebuild Lives Of Victims"
Malay-language government-influenced Utusan Malaysia stated (12/30): "We believe that even though the tsunami disaster which took place last Sunday is over, its impact will continue to haunt the Malaysian people because it has been a powerful catastrophe and cost a lot of human lives Immediate measures to restore the situation will help victims recover from the shock and effects of the disaster."
"Ringing The Alarm Bells"
The government-influenced English-language New Straits Times held (12/29): "There can be no argument, even from the most diehard fatalists, that if the alarm had been raised about the impending walls of water, many more...would have been able to scramble to safety. It is, therefore, welcome news that the Government plans to set up such an alert system. We should certainly co-operate closely and quickly with countries in the Indian Ocean Rim to make it a reality. Although we do not have sophisticated tsunami monitoring equipment, it is still puzzling why there were no warnings at all from the relevant authorities in the critical hours on Sunday.... There is, of course, plenty of wisdom in hindsight in this, and no blame or accusation is intended.... In the event, there was no information and no alarm was sounded. The waves came out of the blue without warning.... We may have been unacquainted with tsunami and what happened was admittedly unforeseeable.... While the search-and-rescue operations have been efficient, the delivery of assistance to the victims has been commendable, and the public response to calls for donations has been remarkable, the silence on radio and television sends a message that when it came to communication, the response to the seismic waves was a disaster.... We need to have in place an extensive warning system which sets off instant alarm bells...when there is clear and present danger."
"Malaysia Should Raise Crisis Management Standard and Effectiveness"
Leading government-influenced Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily commented (12/28): "A US report has said that the reason why the death toll of tidal waves was so high in Sri Lanka and India is due to the fact that these countries are yet to join any international body that monitors the movement of tidal waves in the region.... While Indonesia and Singapore are members of the International Coordination Group for Tsunami Warning System, unfortunately, the monitoring network of this group is only extended to the Pacific Ocean close to Thailand and Singapore. It has not included the monitoring of tidal waves in the Indian Ocean.... Since geographically Malaysia lies between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, Malaysia should make great efforts to join the International Tusunami Warning System Group and ask the Meteorological Services Department to help establish a national tidal wave warning system along the parallel coasts of the Pacific and Indian Ocean. We should learn from this recent natural disaster and be aware of the fact that what happens in the region could also happen to our country too. We should raise the crisis management standard, effectiveness, and sense of awareness in future."
"Human Powerlessness In Face Of Tidal Wave"
Malay-language government-influenced Utusan Malaysia concluded (12/28): "Humans, who are sophisticated in science and technology, have yet to have the capability to foresee an earthquake and natural disaster which may suddenly happen without any warning. We believe human beings can continue trying to improve their knowledge about nature and form a warning system to reduce the impact of a disaster."
"Relief For A Shared Tragedy"
The government-influenced English-language New Straits Times stated (12/28): "While the government and the Malaysian public should render all the assistance they can to those who have suffered in Penang, Kedah, Perlis and Perak, they should also not forget the thousands who are in dire need in the worst-affected countries.... It will not be out of place to consider setting up an early warning system for tsunami. If there was no justifiable need for such a wave warning system before, that is certainly not the case now."
PHILIPPINES: "Death And Destruction"
The independent Philippine Star declared (12/28): "In the final days of the year, nature has again shown its destructive power. Grinding tectonic plates triggered a quake off Sumatra in Indonesia.... The violent tectonic movement triggered tsunamis.... There was no tsunami alert in most of the stricken areas.... The international community, just as stunned as the stricken countries by the swiftness and power of the tsunamis, has launched a massive relief effort. Nature, however, has already unleashed its fury and the destruction is done. The waters of Sri Lanka and Thailand have reverted to their pristine calm, and survivors are slowly picking up the pieces of what’s left from the catastrophe.... The devastation is a humbling reminder of the frailty of human existence. The world can only send aid to the disaster-stricken areas and pray for those who were in the path of nature’s whimsical fury."
"A Year Of Disasters"
The independent Manila Times declared (12/28): "A string of natural and man-made calamities has made 2004 a year of disasters in the Philippines and the world. The biggest was the undersea earthquake on Sunday that originated in Indonesia and that sent seismic waves to five countries, killing more than 17,000 people. Measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale--the most powerful in 40 years--the earthquake poured walls of water on the coasts of Sri Lanka, southern India, southern Thailand, Malaysia and the Maldives. The toll is expected to rise further. Waves as high as six meters (20 feet) swept away homes, buildings, cars, boats and entire villages near the coastlines.... 2004 was among the hottest years on record, the fourth hottest, according to scientists. Drastic weather changes have worsened as a result of climate warming.... The environment has deteriorated with overfishing, massacre of wildlife, deforestation, the pressure of population growth on natural resources, water pollution and air poisoning.... We cannot prevent natural disasters, but we can reduce deaths, physical injuries and losses to property with better planning, preparation and prevention.... Prevention is the other face of tragedy. Planning and preparation will help mitigate disaster. Education and foresight are a good insurance."
SINGAPORE: "Great Tragedy Misjudged"
The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (12/30): "It gets clearer by the hour that every party--governments, scientists, business analysts and insurers, relief and disaster recovery experts--had misjudged the scale of the tsunami destruction.... There should be no more talk, but action to retrieve and to mend.... Fatality estimates are not the only yardstick by which one gets a handle on the tragedy. The fact that up to a dozen countries have suffered devastation, including East African states an ocean away from the quake's epicentre, makes this a global concern that requires collaboration to cope. There are two points to ponder. The UN...should get cracking with the material organizing and relief coordination. As resources are still scarce, it could assign specific affected nations to specific organizations as diverse as UN organs and NGOs like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. Misdeployment of resources in these circumstances would be an added catastrophe. The UN is the only institution with the gravitas to cut across petty rivalries and political sensitivities which so often delay urgent relief. Secondly, why have national armies backed up by naval and air forces not been mobilized yet to handle disaster recovery work? Television pictures are full of desperate individuals using makeshift methods to look for bodies and clearing debris. In Aceh, the sight of the dead piled up on the streets cries out for intervention. Replicate this scene across communities in East Africa and the Indian Ocean littoral states, and the absence of professional support gets unconscionable. Soldiers are disciplined people. They have the training and the tools to get the job done. Why are they sitting in barracks?"
"Recovering From Tsunamis"
The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (12/29): "The immediate priorities in responding to Sunday's tsunami disaster are clear: The missing have to be accounted for and resources have to be marshalled to help the millions who survived the disaster.... 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 U.S. 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. An early-warning system is not prohibitively expensive, and constructing one would be more a matter of coordination than big bucks. Surely the region can cooperate to avoid disasters that, inevitably, do not recognize national boundaries."
"World Community Shows Caring Spirit For Asia in Time of Need"
The editorial in leading pro-government Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao read (12/28): "The aftermath of the earthquake in Sumatra has triggered one of the worst tidal wave disasters in history. Experts have said that if India and Sri Lanka had joined the International Coordination Group for Tsunami Warning System, the loss of human lives in these two worst affected countries would have been much less. This is a regional disaster that has caused thousands of innocent lives and shocked the world.... Singapore is ready to extend its assistance to affected countries and help with relief and rescue efforts. In the same gesture, the U.S., Russia, China and EU have also expressed their desire to extend humanitarian assistance to the affected countries. We are glad to note that the world community has shown a caring spirit for the Asian region in the time of need."
"Random Fury Of Nature"
The pro-government Straits Times opined (12/28): "Sunday's deadly tsunamis that laid waste to a coastal arc from the Indian sub-continent to South-east Asia will prompt recriminatory questions, and not for the first time. Could the carnage have been reduced? Was prevention a viable thought?.... Humankind is exploring the outer planets and stars, after reaching the moon. It makes machines and potions to kill large numbers of its own kind ever more efficiently. Scientists understand how plate tectonics work.... But it is beyond the reach of science to predict the timing of quakes, even the energy mechanics governing the directional flow of tsunamis. Still, questions will be raised about having tsunami warning systems on this side of Asia-Pacific to complement the warning facility in Hawaii. Indonesia and Thailand are part of the Hawaii network, but it is not known if timely information filtered through. This region must cope better than it can. Having some kind of monitoring system seems better than none, despite the patchy workings.... It cannot be comforting to leave matters to the fates."
SOUTH KOREA: "Be Ready For 'International' Disasters"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun averred (12/28): "The huge earthquake...was the world's biggest quake since 1964, but the tsunami was so great that it would be hard to find a precedent.... It is at least fortunate that the international community is responding with aid in the form of relief and recovery assistance. The Korean government is of course participating in the effort as well.... With the advance of globalization, natural disasters are taking on an increasingly international character.... The lack of a warning system led to human casualties in distant places.... That is something the international community needs urgent joint improvement on, not just the countries affected."
"Time To Show The Tsunami Victims Korean Compassion"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo maintained (12/27): "The nations along the Indian Ocean coast suffered tremendous damage.... As soon as disaster struck, the international community, including the UN, expressed its intention to rebuild the shattered or submerged communities and has since been sending out personnel and materiel to the water-wracked sites.... As order is restored to the disaster sites and the true extent of the damage comes to light, it will be necessary to proffer additional assistance.... Internationally, we are still viewed as penny-pinchers in terms of providing disaster aid.... We cannot hope to be accepted as a good neighbor by the international community, nor raise Korea’s prestige on the world stage, if we continue to behave in this way.... Geographically, the nations of Southeast Asia might be several thousands of kilometers apart, but economically, they have become crucial neighbors. The Korean people and their government must have it in their minds to share in some of their neighbors' misfortunes."
THAILAND: "Too Soon To Know Economic Impact"
The independent English-language Nation said (12/30): "It is perhaps too early to confidently assess the economic impact of Sunday’s deadly tsunami.... Still, the Finance Ministry yesterday came up with a forecast that the tragedy would have only a minimum impact on the economy, reducing growth by only 0.3 of a percentage point next year.... It might take months if not years to reconstruct the South. It will take longer to restore the priceless image of southern Thailand as a tourist paradise.... At the moment, donations totalling several hundred million baht are flowing in to help the victims of Sunday’s tragedy. This shows that the Thai people still have a good heart. But it is not certain these donations will be spent effectively or really reach the hands of the affected.... How to ensure that the assistance is distributed fairly, proportionately and evenly among different groups--ranging from big tourism businesses, to small-to medium-operators and local residents--will be a major challenge. During this time of difficulty, we all need to pull together and offer those in need a helping hand. If the South can start to stand on its own feet again, then we all can walk ahead together."
"Lessons Must Be Learned From This"
The independent English-language Nation held (12/28): "As terrifying and unpredictable as tsunamis are, good forecasting, early warning and education could save lives. The killer seismic waves from the world’s most violent undersea quake in recent memory crashed--without warning--into Thailand’s western coastline as well as other Indian Ocean rim countries on Sunday.... Such a catastrophic natural disaster makes for sobering reflection. Unlike in the Pacific Rim areas, there is no warning system for tsunamis around the Indian Ocean because such a devastating phenomenon only occurs in the region about once every 700 years. It may well be true that no one can prevent seismic events such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions from happening. But it also true that even the most rudimentary monitoring and public warning systems could have saved many lives.... Thai society as a whole would do well to learn the right lessons from this catastrophe.... Even a warning about the possibility of a tsunami--regardless of its probability--could have tipped off people in vulnerable coastal areas and prepared them.... After the terrifying tidal waves, continued complacency is no longer an option for Thailand or any other countries in this part of the world, which must pool their resources and expertise to acquire the capability to forecast the likelihood of tsunamis.... Countries in South and Southeast Asia must put in place without further delay an effective international communications system to ensure quick dissemination of information throughout the region."
"Priorities Clear In Tackling Crisis"
The moderately-conservative English-language Bangkok Post stated (12/28): "The tidal waves that hit six provinces on the coast of the Andaman Sea brought the country's worst disaster on record.... Restoration and rehabilitation loom as the next biggest hurdles. Indeed, the restoration of the country's tourism industry is important because it is a major foreign exchange earner. And government help will be necessary.... But putting tourism back on its feet, which will require the revival of confidence in Thailand abroad, is no more important than rebuilding shattered lives in the southern provinces.... The chain of events should convince regional states of the need to cooperate in disaster prevention. Already reeling from losses, these states may find it difficult to accept the contention by U.S. scientists that lives would have been saved if they had been part of an international warning system. But they should at least mull the point.... A more active role by ASEAN could help expand the engagement of the Asean Regional Forum, which includes most world powers, in the matter.... Now is the time to give early warning due priority.... This latest calamity shows that causes transcend borders, and compels us to think regionally and internationally."
INDIA: "Tunnel Vision As Policy"
The centrist Indian Express declared (12/30): "Wiser in hindsight as always, India is now considering measures to protect itself against the kind of natural disaster that rocked the nation on Sunday. The tsunami brought with it the realization that it does not pay to be isolated from scientific collaboration on an international scale, given the indubitable fact that had we been linked to systems like the Pacific Tsunami Warning System, we may have been able to save thousands of lives. India needs, first of all, to discard one of its most valued mantras which has become a national ideology: self-reliance. Self-reliance can sometimes be the perfect recipe for self-destruction, as the recent tragedy demonstrated. It is time, then, to seriously consider a tsunami alert system for the Indian Ocean that is linked with the one that is already in operation for the Pacific Ocean. Such systems read and put out relevant data which monitors around the world--from undersea gauges to satellite transmitters--pick up. Indeed the tragedy behind the present tragedy...was that 26 countries were alerted within 15 minutes of Sunday's disturbances on the Pacific Ocean floor but India was not on that list. In our moment of grief and shock, let us seize the moment and work towards instituting such a monitoring system which will help not just India but all the nations in the region."
"Lack Of Government's Foresight And Our Hapless Condition"
Assamese-language left-of-center Guwahati-based Ajir Asom held (12/29): "If India wanted, it could have installed the tsunami warning system in its coastal areas like other countries. But tsunamis never hit India before. Neither was there any fear about its occurrence. So the government did not even consider buying this equipment until now. Owing to the administration's lack of farsightedness and the meteorological department's inefficiency hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives.... Although the federal government has launched geo-stationary satellites to help the meteorological department, our scientists have failed to make proper use of these facilities in serving peoples' interests. Even the government has not taken necessary measures to save people from natural calamities. While the government does not hesitate to spend millions of rupees to carry out anti-terrorist operations why cannot it do so to make arrangements to safeguard its people against natural disasters? Why did it keep our meteorological department so ill-equipped and underdeveloped? The tsunami tragedy has raised such questions in people's mind."
"On Tsunami Trail"
An editorial in the Chennai-based leftist News Today read (12/29): "In the wake of the Tsunami disaster, news has surfaced to indicate that this menace was not unknown to India but unknown only in terms of its destruction potential.... Even at the time of geo-technical investigation for the Koodamkulam nuclear power plant, earthquake researchers warned about the vulnerability of the area to tsunamis. The objection was overhauled.... The India Meteorological Department said that this 'sea storm' could not have been predicted. The facts, on the contrary, were that, with its weather and meteorological satellites, IMD could have tracked the origin and movement of tsunami waves, and that Indian naval ships could have felt and recorded these waves. They were either not knowledgeable or were indifferent.... Belatedly now, the government proposes to set up a sea floor pressure recording system...to send warnings in the event of a tsunami.... It is time that we established contacts with tsunami warning systems abroad.... Disaster management is a new area. The problem is that, more often than not, disasters could get bunched causing the greatest possible inconvenience. There can, however, be no escape from meeting the challenge."
"India Should Join Pacific System"
Dr. S.Z. Qasim commented in the centrist Indian Express (12/29): "But even to someone who has studied oceanography for years and headed so many Government departments, I have not yet been able to comprehend fully what should be done.... To build up a tsunami prediction network for the Indian Ocean will be a gigantic effort. The cost, in my view, will run into thousands of crores.... The Indian Ocean is vast. Instead of committing a lot of money very quickly, we should identify a good starting point. India should invite world experts on tsunami, who must tell us why this has happened here and whether it can be repeated. Only then should we take action. We should explore the possibility of linking the system with the Pacific Ocean. We will have to see how many places will have to be linked, what sort of information technology will have to be put in place. But the question that will confront us soon will be: what will be the cost of predicting something that happens once in a century? What we need is interaction among knowledgeable people in India and interlinkage with countries which have been facing tsunamis for hundreds of years and have developed some control over it. Based on this interaction we should set up some infrastructure. After all, we cannot build shelters for 25-ft high waves to cover hundreds of kilometers of land.... Even land earthquakes cannot be precisely predicted. It is only storms, hurricanes and cyclones which can be predicted days in advance."
The centrist Asian Age observed (12/29): "In the long term, India will have to take the initiative to persuade the other countries to invest in an early warning system for the Indian Ocean. There is a section of opinion here as well that is against this, using the plea that it is an expensive piece of equipment and India is too poor to spend money on merchandise that is not essential. Human life should not be treated so cheaply, and it is a good sign that minister for science and technology Kapil Sibal has announced the government's decision to invest in an early warning system that will, let us hope, be able to prevent such disasters in the future. Or at least sharply cut down on the scale of the destruction."
"The Tsunami As Metaphor"
Editor Manoj Joshi speculated in the nationalist Hindustan Times (12/29): "What can we say about a country whose vaunted scientific community did not even anticipate a tsunami leave alone suggest a plan to deal with it? Or which crossed the nuclear threshold without a system to cope with the consequences of nuclear attack? India is highly prone to almost all the disasters listed above.... India's experience in the government's ability to manage these crises has been, to put it politely, mixed.... If coping with the oldest of disasters--floods-remains a problem, the country is a long way from handling tsunamis, flu epidemics or dirty nuclear or anthrax bombs and other unanticipated dangers.... But the Indian condition is unique and it's not about our alleged fatalism. Our scientists have set up a station in the Antarctica and are readying to go to the moon. But in their many seminars and junkets abroad, they did not hear anything that would have persuaded them to suggest that India join the tsunami warning network.... Our problems lie not in the abilities of the people or the degree of difficulty of our challenges, but of the antiquated management structures of...the Government of India."
"Destruction By Tsunami"
Guwahati-based Assamese-language centrist Dainik Agradoot maintained (12/29): "Although the federal as well as the state governments have formed separate disaster management cells, so far our country has not been successful in tackling natural calamities. The extent of damages and loss of lives caused by the natural phenomenon like tsunami could have been reduced had the administration issued early warning to alert people in taking safety measures. But, the disaster management system in our country is not so developed.... Therefore the government should consider spending more money on scientific researches and to create awareness among people to control natural disasters.... At the same time, the world community also needs to adopt an integrated program to control and manage natural catastrophes. No one could possibly predict the natural calamity that Asia is facing today will not occur in Europe or Australia some day. So, all countries across the world should come forward providing assistance to India and other South-east Asian countries to deal with the havoc created by the killer tidal waves."
An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer read (12/29): "As India begins to recover slowly from the shock of the havoc wrought by tsunami's devastating waves, the question arises whether something, if done in time, could have at least reduced the scale of death and destruction. The question or its equivalent...has acquired a particularly sharp edge in the present instance given the report that the loss of life at least could have been substantially lower had India been one of the 26 countries that constitute the International Group for the Tsunami Warning System.... The lapse would seem to be particularly unfortunate because...India was approached to be a part of the group but had declined saying it did not have enough money to sustain a full-fledged system. Whatever it is, Sunday's events have made it clear that there is no alternative to bearing the cost and putting the system in place. It might be useful in this context to bring Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as also certain African countries along the rim of the Indian Ocean, which are as vulnerable, into the loop on a cost and information sharing basis. Nations have a responsibility to the world's common humanity, and must therefore act collectively.... There is a strong case for the UN Environment Program taking over the responsibility for natural disaster anticipation on a global basis.... Both disaster management and forecasting have to be a part of an integrated system."
"Earth And Sea"
The centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph maintained (12/28): "There is obviously a tragic disjunction between scientific findings and practical policies of defense and protection, which only national governments can implement. It seems even sadder that a proposal to put in place tsunami warning systems or tide gauges in countries around the Indian Ocean had been ignored since tsunamis were not common in the region. The destruction caused by the immense forces that moved earth and sea could not have been completely avoided. Yet something could have been saved, certainly numberless lives.... In India, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, it is not merely the toll in lives, livelihoods, and property that will have to be counted, but the damage to infrastructure, the threat to health and, especially in the regions most dependent on tourism, the damage to the economy.... The only thing that human beings can do is use all the scientific and technical expertise at their command as defense against irresistible natural forces that take no account of hostile times and festive times, of the very young and the very old, of the poor fisherman and of the rich tourist."
"Diabolic America Claims Thousands Of Lives In Asia"
Mumbai-based Marathi-language right-of-center Navakaal thundered (12/28): "America's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center could have warned the Asian countries of the wall of water that killed more than 23,300 people.... The tsunami was the result of an earthquake which was tracked by U.S. seismologists about twenty minutes before the tidal waves hit the Indonesian coast. Such a precious twenty minutes were these! But U.S. officials claim that although they tried frantically to inform about the deadly wall of water, there was no official alert system in the region. The director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US has blamed the lack of tsunami meters in the Indian Ocean. The NOAA issued a warning notice, which was sent only to Australia and the U.S. It also called the Australian authorities, the U.S. navy and even the American embassies in the region. But strangely enough, it didn't think it fit to make similar phone calls to the governments in the nations that were in the danger zone. Instead of lamenting the lack of a hi-tech global warning system in southeast Asia, a phone call to the governments in India and other nations in the probable tsunami path would have triggered instant evacuations. In any case, it takes less than fifteen minutes to run away from the coast."
Influential Hindi-language Rashtriya Sahara concluded (12/28): "The massive earthquake...left a trail of destruction in the coastal areas of South India. The misery suffered by the people of these regions beggars all description. Relief operations by the Indian Army have once again proved their readiness to serve the countrymen during every kind of natural calamity. What could be more satisfying than to see the three wings of the Army joining hands in relief operations? Warships of the Indian Navy have already reached Sri Lanka and Maldives with relief material, medicines and helicopters.... It is natural to help one's own people during a tragedy. But helping people of other countries to heal their wounds is the best example of humanitarianism.... It is also necessary to work on a war footing to prevent epidemics when the water recedes.... Weather experts too must put pressure on the government to provide them with the facilities for predicting earthquakes, especially disasters like the tsunami."
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (12/28): "It will take some time before the sheer scale of Sunday's tragedy sinks in. Southern Asia felt the battering impact of an earthquake...but the mourning for the dead cannot but have global dimensions. For, yet again, the world has woken to the humbling realisation of the precariousness of human existence, the fragility of man's complex architecture of self-preservation, and his ant-like powerlessness before nature's crushing footprint.... While the authorities did not have the benefit of foresight about the disaster, they are surely wiser after the event about the need for upgraded communications links. A larger issue has to do with transnational detection technology.... This country's sense of security vis-a-vis the low to non-existent probability of its being a tsunami victim has been wrecked.... Finally, renewed introspection about man's contribution to natural disasters is in order.... It is not too late for a technology-driven world--caught up in developmental rhetoric without regard for ecological sustainability--to be more environmentally conscious."
"Disaster In Tamil Nadu"
Independent Tamil-language centrist Dinamani stated (12/27): "The tsunami hit southern India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Thailand, following the undersea earthquake in Indonesia, which left thousands dead. The countries around the Pacific Ocean are constantly exposed to tsunamis and the consequent loss of lives. A warning center comprising of 26 such nations is functioning to prevent it. India, though not a member so far, should at least now, after the calamity, seriously consider membership. If this is not possible, India could, as an alternative, set up a body comprising of nations around the Bay of Bengal. It is possible to receive prior warning about tsunamis by monitoring ocean levels with the help of satellites as India has the necessary resources in this regard. It is a matter of regret that no such coordinated preventive efforts have been attempted so far."
PAKISTAN: "Attitude Of Rich Countries"
Sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat concluded (12/30): "The devastation caused by the recent tsunami show that its after-effects would be felt for long and the effected countries would take a long time to recover from this catastrophe. This is the final exam for the rich countries. However, so far they have not made any courageous move to measure up to the world expectations. They should at least pay heed to what the UN is asking them."
Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang stated (12/27): "Tackling the after-effects of this great human disaster needs great financial resources. The rich countries--particularly the USA, the UK, France, China, Russia, the EU and Arab countries--should leave no stone unturned in their efforts to help those affected."
SRI LANKA: "National Disaster And People's Unity"
Independent Tamil-language Virakesari advised (12/28): "The tsunami of Sunday which hit the North, East and the South of Sri Lanka has played havoc. It has devastated the coastal areas of Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and Singapore. The President has proclaimed this natural calamity as National Disaster. It has affected the Tamils and Muslims in the North-East and Sinhalese in the South alike. The onslaught of the national disaster was on all races. All of them faced the brunt of the attack. It has brought unity and amity among all the people who have suffered together. The army and the LTTE have joined to provide relief to the affected people. This is a good example. All should sink their political, ethnic, religious and language differences and work unitedly to save this country which has undergone a massive disaster."
"Immediate Relief For The Affected"
Independent Sinhala-language Lakbima held (12/28): "As the entire country lies shocked beyond imagination on the worst disaster ever faced by it, it is heartening to note the magnanimous response the public has shown towards contributing to relief work. It is as if all barriers have been shattered by humane considerations and concern for the suffering of fellow countrymen. But it is also necessary to ensure that relief work is organized in the best possible manner with consideration for the items needed and how to meet the logistics. There may be certain places which can be reached only by helicopters. In such situations it is best that relief measures should be coordinated through the Security forces. It is also regrettably necessary to curb the anti-social forces which try to loot even at this crucial and tragic time."
"Nothing But Love At This Time"
Independent Sinhala-language Divaina maintained (12/28): "The earth which is such a liberal source of life can be a deadly force and act as wickedly as humans do, at times. The catastrophic tidal wave has proved this beyond doubt. But in this national catastrophe, it is most gladdening to see the degree of fellowship and brotherhood our people are showing. They are rising above political, racial, religious and all other barriers to contribute liberally to grant relief to those affected by this disaster. In this sense, it will be a blessing if this national catastrophe can galvanize our entire nation to rise above all differences and work unitedly for the country's and people's welfare."
SOUTH AFRICA: "2004: The Year Of Living Dangerously"
The independent Pretoria News observed (12/30): "The deadly sea surges that swept across southern Asia on Sunday, destroying whole communities across at least eight countries, were triggered by the strongest earthquake the world has witnessed for 40 years. In fact, 2004 has been the year of the hundred billion dollar damage bill--when the weather broke all records."
KENYA: "Ruins: We Need To Be Alert"
The independent left-of-center Nation opined (12/28): "We may be thousands of kilometres away, but the tidal wave that wrought such death and destruction across Asia was felt on our shores too. The death toll and the damage of what can only be termed an act of God, superseded anything ever wrought by demented terrorists. The lesson is that no amount of planning and disaster preparation can counter the angry elements.... Yet there is no gainsaying the need for effective disaster-response preparation.... It is our good fortune that the effects of yesterday's tsunami in the Indian Ocean were extremely mild on the east coast of Africa compared to the unimaginable scale of the disaster in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries on the Asian continent.... One lesson is that there must never be room for complacency. There must be a perpetual state of high alert for the unexpected, however remote it may seem."
"This Was A Global Disaster"
Investigative sensational People said (12/28): "Last Sunday's earthquake that swept through southern Asia has left the world questioning the preparedness of the affected countries in the event of such catastrophic disasters. Emerging details show that the public was not well alerted on the matter. Asian officials have conceded that they failed to issue broad public warnings immediately after a massive undersea earthquake in Indonesia.... There was no international system in place to track tidal waves in the Indian Ocean and they cannot afford to buy sophisticated equipment to build one.... In a region boasting of emerging industrialized economies, it is comical to make remarks such as seismic equipment are far beyond their acquisition.... Matters touching on lives of humanity should never be left to individual countries. Rather, the global community should join hands in facing such challenges. This unity should extend to providing finance, technical support and advanced training in disaster management.... The world should now move to assist the affected nations in the Third World economies that are struggling even to feed their citizens. Quite alarming is the affected area of Somalia--a country that up to now lacks a central government--to face matters of national magnitude."
CANADA: "Thirsting For More Aid: The Asian Tsunamis Have Swept Away Rich Countries' Excuses"
Marcus Gee wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (12/30): "Sometimes speaking sense can get you in a lot of trouble. Jan Egeland found that out this week when he spoke about the Asian tsunami disaster.... Egeland...was urging rich countries to contribute as much as they can.... It didn't take long for the fur to start flying.... The richest of the rich took offence.... Egeland wasn't saying that the U.S. in particular is stingy. He was saying that rich countries in general are--including the U.S. On that point, he was absolutely right, and the disaster in Asia brings it home.... Of course, that doesn't make the rich countries responsible for what has happened in Asia--a bolt from the blue that would have devastated any populated region.... But it puts a greater onus on the rich world to respond generously, not just to the immediate crisis but to long-term needs.... The Asian disaster is a perfect chance to make things right by launching a global war on poverty.... If the rich countries want to prove Jan Egeland wrong and show they are not stingy after all, they must take the Asian disaster as an opportunity to fulfill their pledges to their poorer cousins. And 2005 is the year to do it."
ARGENTINA: "Tsunami, A Global Tragedy"
An editorial in leading Clarin read (12/29): "One of the biggest question marks is whether the tsunami could have been anticipated. According to some specialists, some tsunamis are predictable and populations may be warned of their proximity in order to find shelter if they have early-warning systems. Pacific countries usually have these devices, but those on the Indian Ocean don't. In this aspect, perhaps a very important portion of the cost of such devices has to do with a lack of infrastructure and foresight of some governments. The international community reacted immediately after the disaster and the UN has launched what may be considered the largest humanitarian operation in history, with a cost of billions of dollars. In addition, many countries have supplied humanitarian aid.... The tsunami finally showed the importance of systems for the prevention of natural disasters, and the idea that the costs of these devices are investments aimed at preserving lives and goods. The tsunami that hit Asian countries is a global tragedy because it affected citizens of a number of countries and made clear the importance of prevention systems for these disasters."
BRAZIL: "Tragedy In Asia"
An editorial in liberal Folha de S. Paulo said (12/28): “Catastrophes like the one that hit Asia over the weekend make us question the reason for such disasters. The insistence with which we try to find meaning in episodes of this type shows how much they disconcert us.... The difficulty of dealing with the unpredictability of fate makes us fabricate culprits immediately. A quick glance in the international media shows that the villain has already been identified: the absence of a tsunami alert system in the affected region.... No one doubts that advanced information could have saved lives.... The risk of such discourse, however, is to dim the view of the obvious. Not even all the world’s money, organization and technology would have prevented a tragedy of large proportions. A 9-degree Richter scale earthquake produces energy equivalent to the explosion of 31.8 billion TNT, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.... There is nothing to prevent devastation when the energy equivalent to 2.12 million Hiroshima bombs is released as giant waves.”
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