Saturday, January 01, 2005



Some first hand reports from the devastation in Sumatra are beginning to come in.

From one account, we learn this:

The destruction in Lhoknga, about 10 miles south of Banda Aceh, illustrates the power of the quake and tsunami along the west coast.

Nearly every building was obliterated, leaving only the foundations and rubble. At a military post in the village, only six of the 300 soldiers survived. In all, only about 200 of the 1,000 residents survived.

The US military has been helicoptering in supplies. Some of what they have seen is being reported:

"There is nothing left to speak of at these coastal areas," said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Vorce, a pilot from San Diego, California. The tsunami left a swath of destruction as deep as two miles inland, with trees mowed down like grass and the only evidence of buildings in many communities the bare foundations, pilots said.

Many residents were camped out on high ground, either afraid to return to the seacoast or having nothing to return to.

The town of Meuloboh, where some 50,000 people had once lived, was about 80 percent destroyed, Faletti estimated.

The saddest of all pictures I have seen of the destruction came from Sumatra. It is a very graphic picture, of a mass of tangled and smashed wood and beach things washed up to shore by a damaged hotel. It's not until you look closely that you realize that the flotsum washed up is filled with twisted and ruined human bodies. (You can see this picture here - it is disturbing. I didn't post directly on the blog with good reason. It's also a pretty large file.)

So why am I telling you all this? Who knows how many people are dead. Millions are without homes now, hiding in the hills, or whereever, with lack of food, water, sanitation. It could be your mother, your brother, your grandfather sitting on the beach, weeping, not knowing what to do next, how to put the pieces of their lives back together.

Do not forget them.

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