44,000 dead? 50,000 dead? 55,000 dead?

I haven’t gotten much of a chance to follow any news story – much less the massive tsunami story out of Southeast Asia. Now reports are that the death toll is 44,000 and rising – this is the kind of number that is pretty impossible to wrap your mind around.

Survivor stories like these keep popping up – providing a moment’s glimpse into the horror.

Foreign survivors who were swept up in the torrential waters triggered by the 9.0 earthquake that struck southern Asia desperately sought missing relatives on Tuesday — particularly in Thailand, where bodies littered the once crowded beach resorts.

A blond 2-year-old Swedish boy, Hannes Bergstroem, found sitting alone on a road in Thailand and taken to a hospital was reunited with his uncle, who saw the boy’s picture on the hospital’s Web site.

“This is a miracle, the biggest thing that could happen,â€? said the uncle, who identified himself as Jim…

“It was like a scene from the apocalypse. There was litter everywhere — motorcycles, cars and dead bodies. I saw many dead babies on the beach,� said Pascale Panuel, a French woman living in Tokyo.

As helicopters hovered overhead and large ferries and small speedboats arrived to evacuate stunned tourists and villagers, rescuers combed through the rubble of what were once bungalows, bars, Internet cafes and dive shops.

I can’t even picture what such a scene must be like, but Yahoo has a photo gallery for you, as well as some amateur video of a tsunami hitting the shore here at their main news coverage page for the earthquake/tsunami. You should definitely watch the video if you want to see the full force of such a wave.

Things are still so chaotic that they’re having trouble organizing all the help that keeps pouring in.

For the most immediate needs, hundreds of relief planes packed with emergency goods were due to arrive in the region from about two dozen countries within the next 48 hours.

But authorities waited in trepidation for the outbreak of diseases caused by polluted drinking water and the sheer scale of thousands of putrefying bodies, lying in mud or being washed onto beaches.

The U.N.’s Egeland said there could be epidemics of intestinal and lung infections unless health systems in the stricken countries got help.

A top World Health Organization expert, David Nabarro said there was “certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami.”

Of course, nothing the United States does is good enough for U.N. official Jan Egeland, who referred to U.S. aid as “stingy.” Ben Johnson at FrontPageMag.Com debunks that claptrap with his column this morning, America: The Great Santa. Go and read it as a reminder of how altruistic we truly are as a nation – and we are anything but stingy.

Fox News has a collection of resources on how you can help with disaster relief. These people will need our help and prayers for years to come.

UPDATE:

(Via Beth) There is a new blog up – The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami (The SEA-EAT blog for short. News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.) – for those of you who want to stay informed and try to help out with the recovery.

2 comments

  1. I miss it too, Beth. Perhaps we can come up with something new to fight about in 2005. Perhaps… when you least expect it… there will be some damning accusations and hostile trackbacks stoking the fires of our bloody rivalry. Or maybe not. Only time will tell….

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