I was in Nha Trang when the news of the Tsunami hit the TV and as has happened many times in the past I was proud to be an Australian. Very early into the tragedy we saw fairly extensive coverage of Foerign Affairs Minister Downer offering millions in aid with video of RAAF Hercules aircraft leaving for the area with water, tarps etc on board. Several hours later Downer and Australia were still the lead item of BBC Asia and CNN Hong Kong broadcasts after stats and tsunami videos. For hours we were the only first-world nation reported as doing something to help. That type of positive coverage means more than ASEAN meetings ever will and leaves an indellible positive impression on the minds of Asian nationals, expats and tourists. I note in todays press people are talking about an early warning system for Tsunamis. Michael Richardson posts an article in the Australian says;
Scientists estimate that Sunday's tsunami, travelling at an average speed of about 800km/h, took at least two hours to reach Sri Lanka and India ? more than sufficient time for an advance alert to have been given, had a system such as that in the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, been in operation.I'm sure Governments, engineers and social workers can work it out but don't imagine for a moment that two hours notice is going to change everything. Two hours notice at Phu Ket would have saved alot of tourists but in Aceh - I'm not so sure that the locals could have moved far enough to save themselves. I think the water reached 6 or more kilometers inland and that was after the area suffered damage from the earthquake itself. When you are looking through the rubble that was your home it's hard to the have to run with your kids and the chatells you feel you should save. Third world country...poverty...living by fishing...living near the coast...the luxury of choosing your circumstances and locality isn't always available. It's not easy but I agree we do need to work on it. We do need to help these poor people but a Tsunami Early Warning sytem only addresses one of the many tragedies they face in their daily lives. In Aceh particularly, Moslem activists will be saying 'Insaf Allah' (It is the will of Allah) believing that Allah has smitten the christians of Ache. Poor buggers - there are many ways to die.