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Tsunami Disaster Brings Generosity

DW-WORLD readers, including eyewitnesses, sent their observations on the Asian tsunami disaster that devastated Indian Ocean countries on Sunday.

DW readers lament the lack of an early warning system in South Asia

DW readers lament the lack of an early warning system in South Asia

The following comments reflect a cross-section of the views of our readers. If you would like to have your say, please click on our feedback button below. Not all reader comments will be published. DW-WORLD reserves the right to edit for length and appropriateness of content.

Eyewitnesses comment

We were on the Tablamu Golf course, close to Khao Lak, Thailand when the waves came. Our lady caddies got us running to the next half-way house where we held on the steel beams. Our hotel Mukdara Beach Resort in Khao Lak was destroyed, and we stood quite confused on the streets after spending the night up on the hills. Then a pick-up van stopped, our caddies from the day before recognized us. They took us to their home, gave us food, let us shower, gave me clean clothes, even bought my husband new clothes and shoes as theirs didn't fit him. They took us to Phang Nga Deputy Governor's station, where we were given 500 bahts to go to Phuket Town. Our caddies took us to the bus station, paid for the tickets and insisted on us taking another 2000 bahts cash! More than what they earn in a month! They didn't even ask for our names or address. At the Phuket Town hall there were numerous muti-lingual translators, free overseas calls and free Internet, lots of food, water and first aid. Our caddies and other Thai people helped us with unbelievable generosity and hospitality, although they had so little themselves! We're in their debt and we'll definitely go back and do what we can for this wonderful people. Thank you so much Ali, Orrewan, Nan and your family! -- Susi Ma

I flew out to Colombo on Sunday, Dec. 26 for a two week holiday with my British friend who is a resident there. We were due to spend the first week in a yoga retreat between Gaulle and Hikkaduwa. On my way to Heathrow I expected Sri Lanka Airways to have cancelled all its flights after I saw Sky News that morning, but they hadn't so I assumed it wasn't all that bad out there. The death toll when I left was 1,200 in Asia. By the time I landed in Colombo I think the death toll had gone up to 10,000 or more. It was a very tense flight there and a very tense moment meeting my friend at the airport. We were picked up by locals who my friend already knew and were driven up to Kandi which is inland and safe. We have spent the last few days in a hotel there, but of course most of the holidaymakers have also made their way there so it was difficult to get a room in a hotel. It seems there are quite a lot of westerners who decided not to go home and to seek refuge on higher ground inland. Life in Kandi still goes on almost as if nothing has happened and completely unaffected. The only change is that all locals and us tourists spend most of our time glued to Sky News in the bars or hotels. It's a very somber mood here but I'm planning on staying because I feel my friend could do with the company at this time and it's very calm up here in the hills. -- Amanda Glover

On relief aid to the countries affected

We in Australia have pledged $35,000,000 and we have planes constantly flying in and out of the area. I admit that Australia is a wealthy country, but Germany is a wealthy country as well. I would expect a better financial response from your country than $2.7 million. Please, the world needs our help and I feel that Germany should dig a little deeper and give for the sake of humanity. -- Gwyllym Suter

I think the world is just starting to respond. A rough estimate of $100 million worldwide is pledged and help is moving. As more needs are brought into focus, more help from all over the world will come. -- John Lynch

Though it can be fair enough to criticize the government and citizens of my United States for hard headedness and that our relief can be at times proportioned too strongly along lines drawn by political agenda, there is no question who will contribute most greatly to this relief effort. Can it be enough? Impossible. The suffering is monumental, the road is long and there was not enough sustenance in much of this region before this disaster. Nevertheless we will try, and the people of the Indian Ocean rim will learn what Berliners learned in 1948: that Americans will drop everything and come running when needed, even to a place in which we might otherwise be personae non grata. -- Don Shogren, Wisconsin, USA

The contributions from the German government and people is extremely disappointing considering it is the third largest economy in the world. Also, its citizens have a major presence in Sri Lanka, India and the other affected areas. Come on, Germany -- you can do much better! -- Ken Brookhouse

I think that the US has been absolutely horrible to everyone over there. Yet, I'll bet they prefer that the US not get involved for fear of them stomping all over everyone. In contrast, nations like Kenya have been exemplary in sending doctors and aid over immediately. Nobody had to create committees there to discuss the "situation" for six months before sending their planes over. Why couldn't the US be more like that? I'll bet the US soldiers stationed in Iraq would have much preferred to have been sent to Sri Lanka and Thailand, etc. to help set up refugee camps and distribute food and water purification tablets than fight people whose only crime is wanting the US to get out of their country (Iraq) and leave them alone! -- Lea-Marie Sky, USA

Schröder is right on track. His humanitarian approach to debt relief, both pre- and post-tsunami, is commendable. Unlike our businessman president, Bush, Mr Schröder sees himself as a world citizen. Congratulations, Germany. -- Nina

Go to the next page to read comments on the need for early warning systems.

On the need for an early warning system

A warning and education about the potential for tsunami after a strong earthquake would have resulted in far, far fewer deaths and injuries most certainly. People would not have been surprised and curious about what was happening. Even if they knew there had just been a strong earthquake they would have not been caught totally off-guard. And the locals should have been more aware of how deadly these waves can be and this would have made them move out of harms way. With no warning they were sitting ducks.
It is so sad to see so much destruction that could have been avoided had people had a clue.
Even if people knew there was an earthquake they could decide for themselves that there would be a chance for a tsunami if ever so slight. I know I would not be lying on the beach tanning had I known.
I am lucky to be living in a place where we have been close to a tsunami in 1964 and now have a warning system in place. However, I would never expect this to be fail-proof either but it is better than being oblivious. I am sure the tourists there just assume that there would be an emergency warning system in place like back in their own countries. -- Barbara Thomae

Yes, (an early warning system) would make a difference in saving thousands of lives that are gone. It's hard to say whom to blame for the thousands of lost lives, but those countries' governments are some (way) responsible for not at least warning people to get away from coasts. Another thing is the lack of education. I believe this could have saved lives. Unfortunately our countries are not rich or wealthy (enough) to afford a warning system but they're always ready for corruption. -- Susann

I think that an early warning would've made a big difference in the death toll. If after the earthquake there had been between 20 and 2 hours for the tsunami to build, and there had been an efficient warning system, it would have been possible to save many lives by evacuating at least the people who lived closest to the sea shores. Natural disasters cannot be avoided, so this should be a reason to be alert and take into account it can happen anywhere, anytime. -- Tatiana, Costa Rica

While early warnings may have caused some fear and panic, the rapid exodus of people might have saved a few thousand lives. Given the level of global observation technology in a variety of fields it is shameful that so little effort is given to saving human lives. Early warning systems exist elsewhere in the world. These should be expanded and enhanced. -- Ron Luft

Yes, an early warning system could have helped to save a lot of life in many countries. Together with such a system, awareness on where to move to be safe is required. -- Aminath Shafia

Even 20 minutes warning could have saved thousands of lives, areas were warnings could have been hours in advance could have an even greater difference.
However, we must consider that this was an unthinkable disaster. Nothing on this scale has happened before and particularly not in this area, so how many warning systems for how many types of disasters should be installed and at what cost?
Finally, some of the areas are so technologically and educationally behind, once the scientists know what was likely to happen, how do you get that word to the common person on the street? We can second guess everything after the fact, 20/20 hindsight. Yes, warnings could have saved thousands, but if this had not happened would anyone think of warnings for tsunamis there? It was a tragedy and nobody should feel that they should have prevented it. -- Pamela Teitel-Werdath

Do you think an early warning would have made a difference? 1,000 percent YES. World governments say the cost of setting up a global tsunami warning system costs too much. The war in Iraq 'cost' too much financially and in innocent lives lost. With over 100,000 tsunami fatalities, there's no excuse for not having a global warning system. How can we put a 'cost' value on the 100,000 plus people who died with no warning on what seemed like a beautiful day in paradise? We the people of the world all deserve the right to have a fair warning, even if it's only 20 minutes. If the governments can't get together and put a warning system in place then we the people must start our own fund to get the warning system in place because sadly, this tragedy will happen again. -- A.L., New York City

I don't know much about tsunamis, but I think that it happened because they don't have the instruments and the contingency plans in case of an earthquake or something like that. (The) problem is about the accessibility of poor countries to this technology. Finally, the problems and this disaster happened everywhere and to everybody, no matter where you come from. -- Carlos Alfonso Cortes Bautista, Bogota, Colombia

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