Dec. 27, 2004

Christmas Tragedies

I got back from visiting my brother in upstate New York yesterday afternoon and was planning to post a few pictures from our chaotic but happy family gathering. But the news of the day has swept that aside. The early reports indicate that at least 14,000 people have been killed by a tsunami originating in the Indian Ocean.

I've been transfixed by the news reports this evening. There's something especially tragic about catastrophes that coincide with celebrations, especially Christmas with it's modern emphasis on comfort and little luxuries. Last December 26th it was an earthquake in the ancient Iranian city of Bam that left 26,000 dead.

I donate regularly to the Red Cross, particularly in support of their international work. Please consider whether there is something you can do to help. This tragedy is likely to be minor in comparison to the on-going man-made situations in Darfur and similar places, but these natural disasters have a shocking suddenness that makes a humanitarian response both urgent and costly.

Thank you, of course, for the kind Christmas messages that have been left here over the holidays. I'll be posting some happier Christmas details shortly.

New Year's Eve Update: Current figures are now roughly ten times higher, at least 127,000 people have been killed directly by the tsunami, more are expected to die due to diseases caused by contaminated drinking water and other causes.

Listening to: Bittersweet Symphony (iTunes Store link) by The Verve from Urban Hymns.


  1. I too have been following this very closely. It's so tragic. I'm at a loss for words really.

  2. I can not believe the numbers that keep rising. Unbelievable.

  3. I must admit that it is tragic. My browser is automatically set the BBC webpage and I stare at the photos of those effected. Each time, I feel as if I am reading it all for the first time. I was thinking on yesterday, how so many tragic things have happened in this world in my lifetime(I have a while to go yet!). I have this odd feeling that one day, I will be thumbing through my child's (if blessed with one, of course) history books and think, "I remember that." And then proceed to tell them where I was on that exact day and how old.. etc. etc... Things really have to get better, right?

    On a lighter note. Thanks to you, I have downloaded every song by "The Verve," after your reminder of what a classic song "Bittersweet Symphony" is. Now I have tons of ipod tunes for the gym! ;)

  4. Retro Girl and Mary: The death toll has already exceeded 60,000. As a geologist by profession I understand all the mechanisms and probabilities, but as a human event it is just incomprehensible. The hardest thing to watch is the grim-faced people carrying the corpses of small children.

    Amanda: I know what you mean about moments being stored as snapshots. I can never forget arriving at my office a few minutes after the first impact of World Trade Center attack. My coworkers already had CNN on a nearby TV. Being a repository of useless trivia, I immediately explained that the Empire State Building had been hit by a plane about sixty years ago and survived without significant damage. I was sure we were watching a tragic air traffic control failure! That theory lasted about ten minutes... I had been in that building with my girlfriend just a month before.

  5. Surely there is more to be said today, Ben. ;) Get to writing. There are fans out there ready to read!