Quake#039;s devastation calls for world help

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

The numbers are almost unfathomable - a massive earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, a 500 mph wave eventually building to more than 30 feet high, and a death toll topping 50,000 and climbing.

Sunday's massive earthquake and resulting tidal wave has shocked the world to its core. The sheer enormity of the devastation is almost beyond comprehension.

Email newsletter signup

The death toll is already more than 10 times the death toll of the 9-11 attacks on the United States.

In a world that lives in almost constant fear from man-made terrorism, Mother Nature reared her unpredictable head Sunday as tragedy struck, then struck again.

Such tragedies have a way of smoothing out the differences between societies and nations.

On the surface, Americans have little in common with the people of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. But a closer look reveals just how small the world is. Across the devastated areas, right this second mothers are hugging their children, thankful to have survived. Children are mourning the loss of parents, neighbors and friends. Tears have no language barriers; grief needs no translation.

As officials in 11 affected nations attempt to locate the dead and help the living, the world community is rushing aid to the devastated countries across Southeast Asia.

World Health Organization officials have begun to worry that Sunday's tidal wave may have only been the first of several ugly chapters in this natural disaster book. The second "wave" is likely to begin in the days ahead as a potential sanitation emergency erupts across the areas.

WHO experts fear the impending disease problems could potentially kill as many as the deadly waves.

The deadly quake and tidal wave are already the worst natural disaster of modern times, perhaps the worst ever in centuries.

If you'd like to contribute to the relief cause, a number of agencies are working to help including the American Red Cross. For more information visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-HELP-NOW.