27 Dec 2004

Tsunami death toll rises above 20,000.
Mass devastation and millions lhave been left homeless after being hit by a 10 metre wave caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Worst hit was Sri Lanka but the waves hit India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, the Maldives, Burma, Bangladesh, even as far as Somalia on the African coast. Waves also struck Kenya, after hitting Mauritius, Reunion and the Seychelles on the way.

map: impact of the earthquake

“This may be the worst natural disaster in recent history because it is affecting so many heavily populated coastal areas… so many vulnerable communities,” UN emergency relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland told CNN.

The only warning that its victims received was that the sea was sucked into the wave as it came closer. “The water went back, back, back, so far away, and everyone wondered what it was – a full moon or what? Then we saw the wave come, and we ran,” said Katri Seppanen, who was on Phuket island’s Patong beach in Thailand with her family when the wave washed over their heads and separated them.

I know Christmas has been an expensive time for you and your family, but please consider supporting the charities who are already in the affected areas with their rescue teams. Entire countries have been devastated:

Oxfam rushes aid to Sri Lankans
“Oxfam flood-response experts are already on their way to the worst affected regions and urgently needed assistance is being prepared.”

International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in south Asia have begun to mobilize staff and volunteers to affected areas to assist with the immediate needs.

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