It has been five days since a massive earthquake off the coast of Sumatra spawned the tsunamis that killed over 114,00 people. Images from the effected region show absolute destruction in the wake of the worst natural disaster in living memory. Hospitals, businesses, schools and entire villages were swept away in the span of 20 minutes. The full extent of the horror and devastation will never be understood, even by those who survived it. Given the scope and locale of the disaster, it is likely that nearly everyone on Earth will be affected by the loss of a friend, colleague or loved one.
Communications from the region have been sporadic due to the destruction of much of the local infrastructure. Despite the wall to wall coverage provided by the mainstream media and the tireless relief efforts from the Red Cross and other NGOs, contact between survivors and their families is difficult. Immediately after the disaster struck, several Blogs began posting messages from survivors. As the week has unfolded, other Blogs have started filling information gaps left by the lack of civilian infrastructure.
One of the most comprehensive is a collaborative effort of 30 – 40 international bloggers at http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com. Posted within hours of the first reports, the site offers information on how to donate to specific areas and how to find out information about loved ones.
Some of the most gripping accounts of the devastation can be found in the first person stories at ChiensSansFrontiers.
Another blog, www.waveofdestruction.org/ shows video and still images of the tsunami and its aftermath.
http://sumankumar.com/ is a third resource blog for people looking for information on missing persons and on how they can add to the relief efforts.
CNN.Com has established an Email posting site which provides space to post messages about missing persons. (http://edition.cnn.com/feedback/forms/form5k.html)
As each day wears on the death toll increases by tens of thousands. The inevitable spread of waterborne diseases is expected to push the number above 200,000. This is the worst natural disaster in living memory and one of the worst in human history. The International Red Cross is asking for cash donations, partially in the hopes of helping rebuild shattered local economies by purchasing relief supplies as close to the effected areas as possible. Due to the sheer numbers of people trying to connect, the servers for many Red Cross branches have been failing recently.
If you have not already donated money, blood or both, please contact your local branch of the Red Cross.