Meditation Focus #122
Easing the Trauma of Southeast Asia's Catastrophe
What follows is the 122nd Meditation Focus suggested for the next 3 weeks beginning Sunday, January 2, 2005.
EASING THE TRAUMA OF SOUTHEAST ASIA'S CATASTROPHE
2. Meditation times
3. Answering the Call from Mother Earth
4. Message from Matthew - December 30, 2004
5. A suggested meditation for the tragedy
6. DONATION INFORMATION FOR THE US AND ABROAD
7. More information related to this Meditation Focus
8. Asian Tsunami Hails Ecological Collapse
9. Greeting the New Year 2005 With a Global Wave of Compassion
10. An All-Purpose Appeal to Peace-lovers Everywhere from Global Family Day Founders
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN PASSING THIS ON TO OTHERS
"I have been leading small ex-pat group meditations here in Bangkok and today I went to donate clothes, water, etc. to one of the places where victims are being cared for, mostly by university students and even school kids. Some of these young people have not slept for three days. They are exhausted. The troops are out helping in whatever way they can. Retired doctors and nurses are working in devastated areas. Thousands upon thousands of people are donating blood, body bags and coffins, not to mention their time. Some international aid has been trickling in - four days after the event. There is fear of mass epidemics due to contamination since the sanitary infrastructure has been decimated. This one not only needs spiritual support but also donations of physical help, money, supplies, etc."
- Comment received on Dec 30 from "Helen Jandamit" firstname.lastname@example.org> in Thailand with a request to have a Meditation Focus on this humanitarian crisis. She also kindly provided some relevant news info some of which is included below.
On December 26, the world suddenly heard about massive tidal waves, or tsunamis, that had engulfed over 12 countries in East Asia following a massive earthquake resulting from the rupture of over a thousand miles of the Earth's crust at 00:58 Universal Time, a tectonic event of such magnitude that it surpassed anything that happened in the last 100 years. Soon after and ever since, people with access to the newsmedia have been flooded with harrowing pictures of large scale devastation and death that has left few undisturbed. The international effort now underway to bring assistance to more than 5 million survivors now stranded in an apocalyptic landscape that has lost all familiar bearings, shocked, traumatized, thirsty and hungry, homeless, and in most cases desperate, will need to be the largest and most sustained relief effort ever organized to even begin to address this tragedy of intolerable proportions.
Calls for help and donations have been pouring through all sorts of channels and the response of the rest of our global family to assist our brothers and sisters in their greatest hour of need has been impressive but must continue as more and more aspects of this global catastrophe are revealed. Governments from around the world have pledged over 250 million US dollars so far, an amount that is sure to grow as the scope of this disaster comes into clearer focus and as citizens around the world press their elected leaders to do more to mitigate this colossal human tragedy, especially in view of the predictable greater number of people to die because of epidemic diseases spread by infected filthy waters in the long aftermath of this crisis. Sadly though, this event and the plight of all these survivors could soon recede as the newsmedia and people shift their attention to other pressing issues or simply to the task of surviving another day in the very competitive and materialism-driven environment in which many live. Yet this event, because of its magnitude and scale has the potential to become a unifying cauldron as millions upon millions of souls are gradually becoming more aware, beyond all differences of race, religion, nationality and culture, of the powerful reality of our global Oneness that binds humanity together in a common fate and a common hope for a brighter, more peaceful future for all.
Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming three (3) weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following two Sundays, to contribute in fostering a growing and sustained global combining of our resources and ingenuity to not only bring assistance to the people in East Asia suffering from this catastrophic event, but also to all other people, no matter where they live or the reason for their suffering, who may also need assistance from their neighbor locally and/or globally in overcoming the dire circumstances which they may experience. May we also collectively direct healing energies and sooting thoughts of comfort towards all the souls left to endure for weeks, months and sometimes years to come the legacy of this tragedy. May all people and all human organizations, in all spheres of human activity, remain focused to extend for as long and as often as necessary the kind of true compassion and keen desire to help that they have demonstrated in the last few days, so that one day soon, a new era of human brother/sisterhood, unconditional love and universal peace may dawn on Earth, for the Highest Good of All.
This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus122.htm
2. MEDITATION TIMES
i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation BOTH to the healing of the Earth as a whole and to reiterate our willingness and desire - if we so choose - to receive assistance from our space family in order to help set things on a path towards a new era of global peace, love and harmony for all. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.
ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.
These times below are currently corresponding to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:
Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage * 8:00 AM -- Los Angeles * 9:00 AM -- Mexico City, San Salvador & Denver * 10:00 AM -- Houston * & Chicago * 11:00 AM -- Santo Domingo, La Paz, Caracas, New York *, Toronto *. Montreal *, Asuncion & Santiago 12:00 AM -- Halifax *, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo 1:00 PM -- Reykjavik & Casablanca 4 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, London *, Dublin * & Lisbon * 5:00 PM -- Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Geneva *, Rome *, Berlin *, Paris * & Madrid * 6:00 PM -- Ankara *, Athens *, Helsinki * & Istanbul * & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Baghdad *, Moscow * 8:00 PM -- Tehran * 8:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 PM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington +4:00 AM
+ means the place is one day ahead of Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time.
* means the place is observing daylight saving time (DST) at the moment.
You may also check at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?day=02&month=01&year=2005&hour=16&min=0&sec=0&p1=0 to find your corresponding local time for tomorrow if a nearby city is not listed above.
3. Answering the Call from Mother Earth
Kathryn Sharp from Alaska writes:
Many people are seeking understanding of the events of the last few days. My own experience was intense. I felt a huge "ocean" of sadness that surfaced around us, several other people expressed this type of feeling it too. Then when I attempted to enter the light grid as I usually do yesterday evening, spirit told me "no access". That has never happened before, and I am assuming that it had something to do with the souls that had passed.
Then this morning I had the most amazing dream as I was waking up. In it, I was floating above these beautiful rolling fields and thousands of people were gathered there in the fields. Most of them were resting peacefully, standing and sitting together in small groups, laughing and talking. There was still a large group further over that was in a state of fear or chaos, but people were leaving that group and coming to the other groups. I went down to be with them, and I realized they were from many different countries with totally different beliefs, life philosophies, and personal agendas from each other. The amazing thing was that they ALL had suddenly realized that none of those things truly mattered. They were laughing, sharing songs and stories, and having this profound feeling of connection that most of them had never felt in thousands of years. The feeling of peace and connection was profound.
When I woke up I knew that I had been given an opportunity to see the souls that had passed in the earthquake tsunami. It was amazingly helpful to experience the depth of love and peace that exists on the other side of the veil. If more people could have this experience, they could not remain in grief and sadness!
Now is the time to connect with the Earth's emotional body. Be present within your own violet heart flame and allow the compassion of that flame to transmute the sadness, anger, and confusion into Love, Unity and Connection. Mother Earth is not asking us to change our actions in the outside world as much as she is to change our consciousness inside. Change the way were late to our bodies and our feelings. Change the beliefs and thoughts that we empower with our attention. Change our tendency of separating from everything that bothers us. When we make these inner changes, the outer world miraculously responds.
Blessings for each of you and the light you carry! Thank you all for participating on our beautiful blue planet through this time of birthing and regeneration.
(Forwarded by "Antares" Antares@magickriver.com> on 30 Dec 2004)
4. Message from Matthew - December 30, 2004
Sent by "Suzanne Ward" email@example.com>
December 30, 2004
S: Matthew dear, Im ready to take your messageIm sorry I couldnt get here sooner.
MATTHEW: I understand why, and I thank you for coming now, dear soul. The shock and grief around the world about the loss of life and vast devastation due to the earthquake and tsunami is deeply touching all souls in Nirvana. We are beaming intensive love-light streamers to all who are suffering the intense pain of sorrow and destruction of their homes and towns. Life as they knew it ended with what they perceive as an incomprehensible tragedy. If they could know that their recently departed beloved people left purposefully to join with the myriad others here and beyond who are sending forth light to all of Earth, it could offer some small measure of comfort in these days of aftermath.
Because of my leadership of Nirvanas soul transition service before entering my current travels, it was felt that with such additional numbers anticipated beyond the daily arrivals, my experience would be helpful. Therefore I returned here prior to this en mass arrival of souls and I can give a firsthand report on their reception. Many came in sound physical condition, and because their dying process was in an instant, no trauma occurred to accompany them psychically. Seeing family and friends who had long preceded many of them to Nirvana and the intensity of love that engulfs all, even with mild confusion as to the reason, they embraced this joyously. To prevent traumatizing these souls, the reason for their transitionthat is, the fact of the earthquake and tidal wave, not their soul contractswas revealed slowly and not as we witness it. Not unexpectedly, their joy turned to sadness by hearing about the massive devastation to the homelands and the grieving families they had left so recently. But the negativity of sorrow cannot last in the all-encompassing love energy in Nirvana, and their sad feelings were lifted by understanding that in leaving as they did, not only were they fulfilling their original or amended soul contracts, but they also are assisting Earth by adding to the light instead of contributing to the negativity on the planet.
Those who came with physical injuries entered stations where a lead medical assister and a team of ten ushered in the strength of the etheric body, which is closely tied to the physical body. Immediately treatment to enhance the etheric bodys strength began, and depending upon the severity of the physical injuries that determined the condition of the etheric body, these souls either have left the medical stations or are still in recovery with constant care by the vigilant medical assisters. The souls who have returned to full vigor have been reunited with family and friends and are receiving the same assistance as do all arrivals in sound condition, the reintroduction to this realm as their memories of other lifetimes here gradually emerge. They are choosing initial residences and settling in, and later they will become reacquainted with recreational, educational, travel and employment opportunities.
The far fewer people who prior to transitioning were acutely aware of what was happening on Earth and their psyches were correspondingly traumatized, entered Nirvana at stations where specially trained medical assisters instantly started the treatment that was customized to each individuals needs. In cases where the physical body also was severely injured, first the medical teams stabilized and strengthened the etheric bodies and then these people entered the longer-term care stations for psychic healing. Mother, you remember from my detailed explanation in the first book that every person is greeted by name and his or her lifeprints are known prior to arrival, so personalized treatment is readied in advance; also the soul is liberated, so to speak, from the etheric body and psyche of the immediate past Earth lifetime, so the healing Ive mentioned refers only to those bodies and the psyches that need it.
S: Yes, I remember, but its good to mention that here. Many family members died at the same timehave all of them been reunited?
MATTHEW: Family members who wish to be reunited have been, but those who desire to be with souls with whom the love bond is stronger are free to do that without resistance. Since the new arrivals are seeing again people with whom theyve shared other lifetimes, these kinds of reunions also are common. New residents still in recuperation know which family members also are here and vice versa, and the same is true of the souls who entered the lower layers of this world.
Not all of those who departed Earth en masse entered the beauty, majesty and intense light in the upper layers of this multilayered realm. That vast numbers arrived suddenly due to one natural disaster does not alter the universal law that governs which part of Nirvana a soul will initially inhabit. The energy of thoughts, feelings, intentions and actions throughout the lifetime automatically draws the person to the part of Nirvana where the energy registration corresponds to that lifetime. But regardless of which part that is, whatever treatment may be needed for the etheric body or the psyche is immediately given at appropriate medical stations.
S: You know that Ive received many requests for your comments about this overwhelming situation in Southeast Asia. Someone who wrote quoted from an Internet posting, that the quake "actually altered the axis of the earth's rotation" and "a big piece of the planet's mass has been moved around." Can you comment on that?
MATTHEW: I cant give any definitive comment based on those fragments out of context, but I can say that that one event didnt create a change in Earths rotation. However, it may have called attention to the orbiting changes that are occurring as the planet is ascending into lighter densities, and the interpretation is that the quake altered the axis. Now, when tectonic plates move to the extent that a 9.0 quake like this results, indeed a big piece of the planets mass is affected, but if the article states or implies that it has been moved around to a different location on the seafloor, that is not correct.
S: OK, thank you. Most people who asked specific questions want to know if this was a manmade quake, and a couple of people forwarded an article proposing that tall white and/or little grey ETs may have used scalar beams to cause the quake so they could rescue the children and take them to locations off-planet, but they did it with good intentions. Is there any credence to that?
MATTHEW: None whatsoever! The only ET hand in this otherwise totally natural disaster was using their technology to neutralize the force of the quake and lessen the size, or height, of the tsunami, and thus reduce destruction and death toll. Without their help, hundreds of thousands of people would have perished, and this was not Earths intention. In my last message and in several prior to that, I mentioned that geophysical events would continue as the planet releases the kinetic energy resulting from millennia of accumulating negativity, and not long ago I stated in a message that before your planet is completely out of third density, millions of people will die. As much as I wished it were not necessary to pass on that kind of information, it IS necessary for you to know what to anticipate and to prepare spiritually.
The positive note here is that we are seeing unprecedented spiritual preparation in the aftermath of this titanic event. We understand that you regard this year as ending with a monumental tragedy, and I shall tell you how we are able to perceive it beyond that. We see the near-brilliance of light from what could be considered a global prayer for the souls who departed and for the survivors. We see people of all nations rushing to assist the people in the countries affected by the tidal wave and donations of every kind being amassed for relieving the dire straits of the injured and homeless. We see that color and ethnic and cultural barriers are crumbling in the wake of this international disaster. We see the opening of hearts in thanksgiving for blessings that have been taken for granted. These unified outpourings of feelings and assistance have created far more light than the amount of negativity created by the deep sorrow and shock.
S: Mash, do you want to say anything about what will be happening in 2005?
MATTHEW: Yes, Mother, I do, although I doubt that I can say much that will be surprising to people who have been reading my messages all along. Your next calendar year will be bringing the most profound changes in your recorded history of government and economic systems, along with the realization that you are receiving on and off-planet help from your space family. Climate, not only weather, changes will be undeniably evident, and environmental activism will be increasingly forceful. Newborns will have more DNA strands than their parents, increasing the numbers already there with what you could call stunning paranormal or extrasensory powers. Consciousness-raising will promote heartening cooperation, sharing and harmony starting within families and extending across international borders. The ever-intensifying light will continue to open telepathic connections and further magnify human traitsin simplest terms, the good will be better and the bad will be worse. Light-receptive people will experience physical and emotional symptoms related to the transformation of their cells from carbon to crystalline, a necessity for physically accompanying Earth into the higher vibrations where she is heading; also, by heeding their inner voice, these people will be motivated to make beneficial changes in attitudes, relationships, jobs, residences and spending. Those who choose to refuse the lightthat is, ignore intuition and conscience or cling to their current greed, control, deceit or fear, will start to leave as the planet keeps ascending into the higher vibrations where their bodies cannot survive. Many souls will be leaving in accordance with their soul contracts, some by the geophysical upheavals and wars that will continue for a while longer.
Those are the major developments we foresee, but in short, 2005 will be a memorable time of transition from what you have been led to believe into what is reality. Those who stay steadfast in love-light energy will greet each change, even those that may be temporarily quite challenging, as another milestone of Earths travels toward the promised era of peace and harmony throughout all her lands. Myriad light beings, in body and in spirit, will be lovingly helping you all along this enlightening and exhilarating journey that will take you to your rightful place within our space family.
To find out more about Matthew and Suzy ward and the 4 books published so far, including the first book Matthew, Tell Me About Heaven, please go at http://www.matthewbooks.com
You may also want to read The Veil is Opening - Introduction to the book "Matthew, Tell Me About Heaven" at http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/VeilOpening.htm
This message is also archived for your convenience at
5. A suggested meditation for the tragedy
Forwarded by Doreen Agostinoisisconsulting@rogers.com> on December 29, 2004
From: Donna Mitchell-Moniak firstname.lastname@example.org>
A suggested meditation for the tragedy
We open our hearts
And its light pours forth creating a path toward the portal of passage for all those who have left their bodies and all those who will leave over the next several days.
The moment of death for the body is not the completion of passage, and so we collectively generate lighted passage for those ripped from their lives by the waves of samsara.
(Hold that asana, generating the path and portal of lighted passage for several minutes.)
Equally we open our hearts to those who remain, living in shock, brought about by devastation that none of us can imagine or fathom. We generate the light of love in action which ripples forth as...
rest and solace
We generate the light of heart-mind, that our brothers and sisters, might be assisted in their tragedy, in their sacrifice.
(Hold this asana - generating the above listed qualities - for several minutes.)
We link together, through and in the Power of Presence itself, and acknowledge the sacrifice of this vanguard of humanity, pushing open the door of greater Reality. Because humanity is so easily confused by emotions, that which might equally draw our collective light does not. Politics mask and mar our minds. So this situation is given to all humanity through the sacrifice of so many, without the veil of political clothing, so that we might begin to see. We acknowledge, hold sacred and in the greatest light, the invocation: Lead us from darkness to light. Lead us from death to immortality. And from the unreal to the Real.
In the blazing light of the illumined heart, in the Presence of ALL THAT IS, we stand with our brothers and sisters of sacrifice in South East Asia, and add to their numbers the millions dying of HIV/AIDS in Africa, all who struggle with oppression, and say "Come up to Bethlehem - the house of bread - where are all are fed, all are sustained by the giving heart, by the mind that no longer sees difference but instead sees things differently. Come humanity into your own heart. Let tears no longer be tears of sorrow and pain but of compassion.
Please give generously to the aid relief organization of your choice.
Also, please, all meditators, hold the powerful asana of lighted passage for the next several days for those passing through this tragedy. It takes several days for a passage to complete.
Lastly, light a candle for the living light, alive within the survivors, and passing through the subtle realms.
6. DONATION INFORMATION FOR THE US AND ABROAD
The following aid agencies are accepting contributions for assistance that they or their affiliates will provide for those affected by Sunday's earthquake and tsunami. Please consider these aid agencies for donations to help the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami
American Red Cross
P.O. Box 37243
Washington, DC 20013
http://www.redcross.org (Info and updates too)
Canadian Red Cross
British Red Cross
08705 125 125
Australian Red Cross
Croix-Rouge en France
Croix-Rouge de Belgique
88 Hamilton Ave.
Stamford, CT 06902
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC Crisis Fund)
1501 Cherry St.
Oxfam America Asian Earthquake Fund
PO Box 1211
Albert Lea, MN 56007-1211
UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund)
Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres
1-888-392-0392 or go at
Articles on their current tsunami relief effort
Aid Groups Accepting Donations For Victims
International aid organizations are accepting donations to help victims of the powerful earthquake and resulting tsunamis that caused widespread destruction in parts of Asia and Africa. MOST COMPREHENSIVE LIST!
Help Support Disaster Relief in Southeast Asia
This list by the Network for Good is also very comprehensive
Quake / Tsunami Disaster: How You Can Help
7. MORE INFORMATION RELATED TO THIS MEDITATION FOCUS
This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.
1. More than 120,000 killed by tsunami
2. Relief workers overwhelmed by scope of disaster
3. Tsunami death toll nears 81,000, disease threatens to push it higher
4. Peak Threat Still Ahead in Indonesia
5. Tsunami Zone Time running out for Andaman and Nicobar survivors
6. World ramps up aid pledges as tsunami fallout mushrooms
7. Bush Promises Long-Term Help for Asia
8. Sri Lanka's war machine gears for relief as tsunami toll nears 22,500
9. Relief efforts to Andaman and Nicobar islands remain difficult
10. 'Where Are You?' Resonates on Web Sites
11. Disaster beyond comprehension: Thai rescue workers
12. UN targets Indian Ocean tsunami alert system by end 2005
13. Scientists: Tsunami Could Hit West Coast
Death toll more than 114,000 in tsunami
With tens of thousands still missing, that number is almost certain to grow, amid fears that disease could bring a new wave of deaths.
Fears Disaster [9.0 Earthquake / Tsunami] Toll Could Hit 100,000 [It will ultimately cause over 250,000 deaths --Meanwhile 25,000+ children starve to death daily - Did you hear about that?] by Ian Johnston
Scientific Background on the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
Includes Tsunami Animation - Information relating to the submarine earthquake in between Aceh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka of the 26th of December, 2004 has been compiled here. This compilation archives much of the readily available scientific information. Aspects that were not immediately brought out by news reports were: CLIP
Tsunami's Historic Devastation
A collection of pictures and video updated every hour. VERY comprehensive!
Tsunami-related video collection
Worldwide Earthquake Activity in the Last Seven Days
5 Million Displaced By Tsunami (Dec 30)
Up to five million people have been displaced by the devastating tsunamis that pummelled large tracts of Asia over the weekend, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.
U.S. Aid For Victims Of Tsunami $35 Million
Cost Of Bush Inauguration $30 Million to $40 Million: The $250,000 donors include former Enron President Richard Kinder, Dell Computer founder Michael Dell and Texas oilman and corporate takeover specialist T. Boone Pickens.
Are We Stingy? Yes (December 30, 2004)
President Bush finally roused himself yesterday from his vacation in Crawford, Tex., to telephone his sympathy to the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia, and to speak publicly about the devastation of Sunday's tsunamis in Asia. He also hurried to put as much distance as possible between himself and America's initial measly aid offer of $15 million, and he took issue with an earlier statement by the United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who had called the overall aid efforts by rich Western nations "stingy." "The person who made that statement was very misguided and ill informed," the president said. We beg to differ. Mr. Egeland was right on target. We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities. The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent. Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe. Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar. Mr. Bush said yesterday that the $35 million we've now pledged "is only the beginning" of the United States' recovery effort. Let's hope that is true, and that this time, our actions will match our promises.
55,000 Dead: The Role of U.S. Criminal Negligence on a Global Scale (Dec 28)
(...) A mere half million dollars could have provided an early warning system that could have saved thousands of lives. This should be compared to the $1,500,000,000 the U.S. spends every day to fund the Pentagon war machine. This means that for what the U.S. is spending for less than one second of bombing and destruction it could construct a system that could have prevented thousands of needless deaths. Lack of funding for an inexpensive, low-tech early warning system is simply criminal negligence. CLIP
Solidarity with Asian communities stricken by the Tsunami: making the inhabitants' know-how available for reconstruction and the wealth of states for the abolition of foreign debt.*Faced with the disaster of apocalyptic proportions that has upset great parts of Asia, the International Alliance of Inhabitants calls upon associations of civil society and all anti-globalisation movements to show, in a concrete manner,solidarity with the stricken populations. It is time to get going, putting all our know-how as builders of cities to rebuild the villages of fishermen, the shantytowns and the popular quarters destroyed by the Tsunami. Otherwise, we run the risk that nobody will take the necessary action. Read more at http://iai.opencontent.it/article/articleview/1414/1/275/
Sent by International Alliance of Inhabitants email@example.com> http://www.habitants.org
2004: The Year Of Living Dangerously
This year has seen a succession of natural disasters, destroying cities and killing tens of thousands of people - a trend that is terrifying the insurance industry.
For a review of other international crises see this page from the International Red Cross Committee
Tracking the tsunami donations (Dec 30)
Billions of dollars will be donated to the Asian tsunami relief effort but keeping track of who is giving what will be a big and interesting exercise.
More than 120,000 killed by tsunami
Dec 30, 2004
By Tomi Soetjipto and Dean Yates
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - The death toll in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster has soared above 120,000 as millions scramble for food and fresh water and thousands more flee in panic to high ground on rumours of new waves.
Aid agencies warned on Thursday that many more, from Indonesia to Sri Lanka, could die in epidemics if shattered communications and transport hampered what may prove history's biggest relief operation.
Rescue workers pressed on into isolated villages shattered by a disaster that could yet eclipse a cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991, killing 138,000 people.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called for an emergency meeting of the Group of Eight so that the rich nations club could discuss aid and possible debt reduction following "the worst cataclysm of the modern era".
The total toll had shot up more than 50 percent in a day with still no clear picture of conditions in some isolated islands and villages around India and Indonesia.
While villagers and fishermen suffered devastation, losses among foreign tourists, essential to local economies, mounted.
Prime Minister Goran Persson said more than 1,000 Swedes may have been killed in the disaster.
Indonesian Health Ministry sources told Reuters just under 80,000 had died in the northern Aceh province that was close to the undersea quake, some 28,000 more than previously announced. Two sources said the toll would be officially announced soon.
THE FASTEST GET THE FOOD
The airport of the main city, Banda Aceh, was busy with aid flights, but residents said little was getting through to them. Hungry crowds jostling for aid biscuits besieged people delivering them in the town. Some drivers dared not stop.
"Some cars come by and throw food like that. The fastest get the food, the strong one wins. The elderly and the injured don't get anything. We feel like dogs," said Usman, 43.
Residents of the city fled their homes when two aftershocks revived fresh memories of the worst earthquake in 40 years.
"I was sleeping, but fled outside in panic. If I am going to die, I will die here. Just let it be," said Kaspian, 26.
Rumours, unfounded, of another tsunami swept to the seaboard of Sri Lanka and India, highlighting the continued tension across the stricken region four days after the quake.
The Indian government issued a precautionary alert for all areas hit by the weekend's killer wave.
Police sirens blared on beaches in Tamil Nadu, one of the worst hit states in a country that has lost 13,000, as thousands streamed inland on foot or crammed any vehcile they could find. "Waves are coming! Waves are coming," some shouted.
This time, however, the waves did not come.
There were similar scenes in Sri Lanka, where over 27,000 have been killed. Thousands fled inland from the eastern coast.
"This isn't just a situation of giving out food and water. Entire towns and villages need to be rebuilt from the ground up," said Rod Volway of CARE Canada, whose emergency team was one of the first into Aceh.
The world pledged $220 million (104 million pounds) in cash and sent a flotilla of ships and aircraft laden with supplies.
"As many as five million people are not able to access what they need for living," said David Nabarro, head of a World Health Organisation (WHO) crisis team.
Many villages and resorts are now mud-covered rubble, blanketed with the stench of corpses after the 9.0 magnitude quake.
Thousands of bodies rotting in the tropical heat were tumbled into mass graves, but health officials said polluted water posed a much greater threat than corpses.
Holiday-makers were among those caught by surprise. Nearly 5,000 foreigners -- half from Sweden and Germany -- are missing, many in Thailand, where 710 foreigners have been confirmed dead.
Authorities warned of many deaths from dysentery, cholera and typhoid fever caused by contaminated food and water, and malaria and dengue fever carried by mosquitoes.
Indonesian aircraft dropped food to isolated areas in Aceh on northern Sumatra, an island the size of Florida -- areas that may not be reached by land for days.
In Sri Lanka's worst-hit area Ampara, residents ran things themselves, going around with loudhailers, asking people to donate pots and pans, buckets of fresh water and sarongs.
"Frustration will be growing in the days and the weeks ahead," said U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland.
The United Nations prepared what could be its largest appeal for donations to cope with its biggest relief effort.
The United States said a pledge of $35 million was just a start, and sent an aircraft carrier group towards Sumatra and other ships including a helicopter carrier to the Bay of Bengal.
Financial costs, estimated at up to $14 billion, are tiny relative to the human suffering. By comparison, Hurricane Andrew killed 50 people in 1992 but, with much of the damage in the United States, cost around $30 billion.
In the Thai resort turned graveyard of Khao Lak, the grim task of retrieving bodies was interrupted briefly when a tremor cleared the beach of people in a flash.
Dutch, German and Swiss forensic teams flew to Thailand to help identify now hard to recognise bodies by collecting dental evidence, DNA samples, fingerprints, photographs and X-rays.
Preserving bodies was an urgent need and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra promised to provide refrigerated containers.
In north Sri Lanka, survivors recovering corpses faced a new danger -- floating landmines from a long-running conflict.
Animals seem to have escaped the disaster, adding weight to notions they possess a "sixth sense" for disasters, experts said.
Relief workers overwhelmed by scope of disaster
CTV.ca News Staff December 30, 2004
Relief organizations arriving in Asia's tsunami-hit areas to bring in much-needed food and medical supplies say the needs are even greater than at first thought.
Up to five million people in the region lack access to the basic supplies they need to stay alive, the World Health Organization says.
"This is the most serious natural disaster to affect the region for several decades,'' WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said Thursday. "The health needs of the populations affected are immediate and substantial.''
The WHO estimates it needs $48.5 million Cdn to supply three million to five million people in the region with clean water, shelter, food, sanitation and health care.
Millions more will certainly be needed to rebuild infractructure systems throughout the destroyed areas.
The relief effort is already one of the biggest humanitarian exercises in history, with 60 nations pledging over $220 million US in cash, millions of dollars worth of emergency supplies.
As well, the World Bank has pledged an additional $250 million US.
Aid workers entering isolated areas are finding towns and villages destroyed, countless people hunting water and food -- many of whom have not eaten since the tsunami hit on Sunday.
Bud Crandall, director of CARE International in Indonesia, told CTV's Canada AM that as workers move into remote areas they're finding more destruction than they had expected.
"When the tsunami first hit, most of the information we had was about the capital city of the province of Aceh, Banda Aceh. The devastation was widespread, and really quite devastating with up to now about 50 per cent of the city destroyed.
"But we're starting to hear scattered reports more and more of the more isolated regions, especially along the western coast of Aceh. And the devastation appears to be even greater along that coastal plain area than actually we initially saw in Banda Aceh."
Canada is sending $40 million to the disaster victims and deploying a team to determine whether the military's crack response team will follow.
The U.S. has doubled its funds to the stricken area to $35 million, and sent two flotillas of U.S. warships with supplies and troops to the region. U.S. President George Bush said the $35 million was "only the beginning of our help" but did not discuss future aid.
Dr. David Nabarro, the head of Crisis Operations at the World Health Organization, says he's encouraged by the donations but wonders how long they'll last.
"At the moment, I would say that the response from countries around the world has been extraordinarily generous. And that is a very good starting amount," he told Canada AM from Geneva.
"What matters is the long-term commitment, so that not only are we pledging money for the emergency response or what you call rescue and humanitarian aid, but for the longer term development and recovery.
"So what I shall say is: Good start. Please keep it up."
Crandall says the first priority for aid workers is to get an aid distribution system working.
"Because of the widespread devastation to the region, the distribution system has been severely disrupted, if not totally destroyed. So that is actually probably the top priority currently of the international effort, really: to get the distribution system going."
Bush is pledging to set up an international coalition of aid donors. Speaking to reporters Wednesday at his Texas ranch, Bush announced the United States has established "a regional core group with India, Japan and Australia to help coordinate relief efforts."
"I'm confident more nations will join this core group in short order," Bush said.
The United Nations has admitted that although hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies have been flown to the region, only a fraction of the aid has gotten to where it is needed so far.
"It will take maybe 48 to 72 hours more to be able to respond to the tens of thousands of people who would like to have assistance today -- or yesterday, rather," UN emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland acknowledged.
"I believe the frustration will be growing in the days and the weeks ahead."
In Banda Aceh, Indonesia, fights broke out Thursday over noodle packets dropped from military vehicles.
Still, in many places, the aid is trickling in. A navy flotilla carrying 175 tonnes of rice and 100 doctors is on its way to Sumatra's western coast, Indonesia's military said.
In Sri Lanka, four relief planes arrived in the capital of Colombo carrying doctors, medicine and a water purification plant from Germany, the Red Cross said.
A fleet of 64 trucks carrying rice, sugar, tents and other essentials have fanned out across Tamil areas.
But officials have said some trucks have had trouble getting through, diverted by Sinhalese mobs and low-ranking government officials. Selvi Sachchithanandam, a World Food Program spokeswoman, declined to comment on the report.
Canadians wishing to donate aid to quake relief can call the Canadian Red Cross at 1-800-418-1111, UNICEF at 1-877-955-3111, Oxfam Canada at 1-800-466-9326, or CARE Canada at 1-800-267-5232.
Bush 'Undermining UN with Aid Coalition' (Dec 30) http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3944374
United States President George Bush was tonight accused of trying to undermine the United Nations by setting up a rival coalition to coordinate relief following the Asian tsunami disaster.The president has announced that the US, Japan, India and Australia would coordinate the worlds response. But former International Development Secretary Clare Short said that role should be left to the UN.I think this initiative from America to set up four countries claiming to coordinate sounds like yet another attempt to undermine the UN when it is the best system we have got and the one that needs building up, she said.Only really the UN can do that job, she told BBC Radio Fours PM programme. It is the only body that has the moral authority. But it can only do it well if it is backed up by the authority of the great powers. Ms Short said the coalition countries did not have good records on responding to international disasters.She said the US was very bad at coordinating with anyone and India had its own problems to deal with. I dont know what that is about but it sounds very much, I am afraid, like the US trying to have a separate operation and not work with the rest of the world through the UN system, she added.
Tsunami death toll nears 81,000, disease threatens to push it higher
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) - Confirmed deaths from Asia's tsunami catastrophe neared 81,000, with experts predicting much worse to come as the world's biggest ever relief operation stuttered into life against enormous odds.
With 80,789 dead, rotting corpses, smashed sewers, contaminated water and a lack of food and shelter, along with mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria, could wipe out weakened survivors in their tens of thousands, UN and other experts warned.
The Red Cross warned its death toll could rise by more than 30,000 once outlying islands of India were fully checked, while a UN official said the toll in Indonesia alone could amount to 80,000.
"I would not be at all surprised if we are over 100,000 dead, particularly when we see what has happened in the Andaman and Nicobar islands," Peter Rees, head of operations support at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said.
Oliver Lacey-Hall of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Indonesia told AFP, "According to information received by OCHA from local government officials, the death toll could be between 50 to 80,000.".
The death toll also rose sharply in other hard-hit countries, including Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, where the stench of death and mass burials combined with traumatic grief and looting to create an apocalyptic vision for overwhelmed relief workers.
"The immediate terror associated with the tsunamis and the earthquake itself may be dwarfed by the longer term suffering of the affected communities," said David Nabarro, the top official at the World Health Organisation dealing with humanitarian crises.
Food and medicine were already desperately short in many stricken areas.
The task of preventing this second wave of suffering is unprecedented, with UN disaster relief coordinator Jan Egeland saying relief operations would be the biggest in history.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the victims were "looking to the international community to respond and respond generously".
"Down the line, I think we are going to need billions. Billions of dollars," he said.
Aid organisations made their plans and governments around the world pledged cash and dispatched ships and aircraft to help. But millions of bereaved and homeless faced a seemingly hopeless task of rebuilding shattered lives amidst utter chaos.
More than half of the confirmed dead -- 45,268 -- were in Indonesia's Aceh province, close to the epicentre of the biggest earthquake in 40 years which sparked the tsunami waves that devastated coastal villages and resorts across the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka has 22,493 dead, India more than 10,800, but the tragedy struck not only the poor eking out a living on Asia's coasts.
The rich holidaying on tropical islands also fell victim to the waves, with Western tourists accounting for most of Thailand's 1,829 dead, officials said, with a further 5,000 missing.
More than 100 Europeans were reported dead and another 3,000 were missing. But the vast majority of the dead were local inhabitants of the 11 affected countries from Malaysia to Somalia on the African coast, and a large proportion were children, said Carol Bellamy, executive director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF ).
"Children can run, but they are less able to hold on, to withstand flooding waters," Bellamy said.
There were stories of miraculous escapes, such as that of a 13-year-old girl who survived after spending two days clinging to a wooden door in the Indian Ocean after being swept off a remote island.
But there were far more stories of unspeakable horror, with mass burials underway everywhere with little formality but accompanied by huge outpourings of grief from people who had lost their entire families, homes and livelihoods.
In Indonesia's Aceh province, survivors scrabbled for food among mud and corpses. Great tracts of land remain under surging waters and there has been no word from many isolated communities.
The first shipments of international aid were arriving in the city of Banda Aceh, 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) northwest of Jakarta, but with no trucks or fuel to distribute it, starvation loomed for thousands.
A race was on to reach the isolated northwestern shores of Sumatra where the first contact was made after three days of worrying silence from an area buried by towers of water reaching 10 metres (33 feet) high.
An Indonesian navy warship has brought food and water to the town of Meulaboh, on the western coast, which is more than three-quarters destroyed.
Masked grave diggers worked at whirring speed, heaping bodies into mass graves with no ceremony amid flattened coconut palms and wreckage of flimsy fishermen's shacks. Others helped pile up wood for mass cremations.
The biggest question mark hung over the fate of people in India's far-flung Andaman and Nicobar islands which lie near the epicentre of the quake.
Six large aftershocks jolted the islands which were home to many tribes already threatened by extinction.
There has still been no communication with many parts of the chain since the tsunami hit. The Andamans, famed for emerald seas, has a population of 350,000.
The death toll on the archipelago was at least 4,000. Many thousands more were unaccounted for.
Sri Lanka pressed its entire public service and the military into an unprecedented relief operation.
Relief co-ordinator Tilak Ranavirajah conceded that officials were still trying to come to grips with scale of the task ahead.
"We can't even think of guessing the size of the destruction," Ranavirajah told AFP. "The priority is to get the supplies to the people in most need."
Throughout the region, hundreds of rescue ships, helicopters and planes were mobilised on relief missions.
The US military said it had diverted an aircraft carrier, other ships, at least 20 aircraft and thousands of sailors and marines to affected Asian countries.
Peak Threat Still Ahead in Indonesia Tsunami Zone
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - Hunger and grief stalked Indonesia's devastated Aceh province on Wednesday as officials tried to reach remote areas where tens of thousands were thought to have died from a massive earthquake and tsunami.
In provincial capital Banda Aceh, the stench of death filled the air three days after the magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami it triggered swept the region. Food and other essentials were scarce, adding to a sense of helplessness and anger among the living.
At least 100 bloated and blackened bodies were still visible on just one small stretch of Banda Aceh's beachfront, tangled together with piles of debris left by Sunday's raging waters.
Many more corpses are believed to fill remote towns and cities near the quake's epicenter, posing a major health risk as officials warn of the threat of disease to survivors.
Michael Elmquist, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Indonesia, told reporters his educated guess was the death toll in Aceh might reach between 50,000 and 80,000.
"The news I got from a government official on arrival today was that their estimate was that a third of the population (of Meulaboh) had been wiped out, which would equal 40,000 people."
Meulaboh is 150 km (90 miles) from the epicenter of the quake, the most powerful in 40 years.
The latest government death toll estimate for Indonesia was 45,268. Aceh accounted for all but 239 of those.
A Reuters cameraman in Meulaboh on Wednesday estimated 80 percent of the city's infrastructure was destroyed, with most homes and many shops flattened or wrecked.
Only a few people venturing out, looking for missing relatives. Many bodies were still on the streets or under rubble. Soldiers were trying to clear the debris and collect the dead by hand.
The threat of disease grew greater by the hour.
"Many people have illnesses such as respiratory problems, diarrhea, skin irritations and cuts. There are still maybe thousands of bodies out there. We are reaching the peak of the threat," Edward Sy, an Indonesian Red Cross senior field officer, told Reuters in Banda Aceh.
"If the government doesn't immediately take action, worse diseases could spread." In two to three days signs of cholera could emerge, Sy said.
Relief efforts have started but roads were covered with mud, smashed vehicles and the debris of collapsed buildings and bridges, making travel difficult.
Several navy ships have been dispatched to the coast to contact whole cities and villages as yet unheard from.
In Banda Aceh, where as much as five percent of the 300,000 population is believed dead, residents were stricken with grief and numb with shock.
"I have given up searching for their bodies," said Rohani Amad, 40, wiping her eyes with a black Muslim headscarf, days after two sisters and her 16-year-old daughter disappeared.
The fear of more deadly waves had people on edge.
"The water is coming, the water is coming," shouted terrified survivors as they fled in the latest of a series of false alarms.
But all was not as bleak.
In Banda Aceh, when relief workers removed 183 bodies stored on a mosque floor after the disaster, they found a man still alive whom they suspected had been there the whole time.
"He was sitting there among all the bodies in a corner. He was badly hurt and has been taken to hospital," said the Red Cross's Sy.
The government and foreign donors have begun airlifting food and water into Aceh, some 1,700 km (1,000 miles) northwest of Jakarta, but the challenges are daunting.
"The scale of this disaster is incredible. It is unbelievable," Information Minister Sofyan Djalil told Reuters.
"On Sunday the system simply broke down. The local government was simply paralyzed because many of their families, even they themselves, were victims," he said.
The region was already under civilian emergency rule as part of efforts to quell a separatist insurgency that began in 1976. Rebels have announced a cease-fire as people seek loved ones.
Food and other essentials like fuel were in short supply.
"There is no food here whatsoever...I haven't eaten in two days," said Vaiti Usman in Banda Aceh, gesturing angrily at her filthy sarong and saying it was the last of her possessions
In Meulaboh, communications and regular power sources were not functioning. Military headquarters used a generator for electricity.
Sunday's quake triggered a wall of water up to 10 meters (33 ft) high speeding across the Indian Ocean. There have been numerous aftershocks from the quake, including a strong tremor late on Wednesday.
Across Asia, the death toll neared 77,000 with thousands still missing. (Additional reporting by Djohan Wijaya in Meulaboh and Telly Nathalia, Muklis Ali and Nury Sybli in Jakarta)
Time running out for Andaman and Nicobar survivors
By Suresh Seshadri
CAR NICOBAR, India (Reuters) - Rescuers on Wednesday reached some of the last of India's remote Andaman and Nicobar villages, areas largely untouched by the modern world, where survivors have lived off coconuts since Sunday's tsunami.
On the island of Car Nicobar, where about 6,000 people are feared dead, dazed Nicobarese tribespeople emerge from the trees as the army pushed into the interior.
Staring blankly, drawn, exhausted and barely speaking, they show little emotion or relief at the arrival of the first help after three days of living mainly on coconuts and camping on the tiny island's only high ground.
"Everything is gone. We have nothing left, not even a slipper," said Nathan, a 56-year-old father of eight.
"First the ground shook and we thought the earth was going to swallow us up. But then the sea came and it came so fast I barely had time to ask my wife to gather our children and run."
The tsunami, triggered by a massive undersea earthquake off nearby Indonesia, has killed more than 76,000 people, although the Red Cross said on Wednesday it could pass 100,000 once the full extent of the devastation in the Indian islands becomes known.
"I would not be at all surprised that we will be on 100,000 (deaths) when we know what has happened on the Andaman and Nicobar islands," Peter Rees of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in Geneva.
Officials estimate about 12,500 people have died in India, although only 7,000 deaths have been confirmed so far.
Bodies still litter the Nicobars and in parts of the southern mainland authorities have given up counting the dead, instead quickly disposing of bodies in mass burials and cremations.
Dozens of aftershocks continue to hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands, bordering Myanmar and Indonesia, and islanders terrified the termors could trigger more giant waves are living on high ground or sleeping on mattresses in the streets of the capital, Port Blair.
As each new tremor shakes Car Nicobar, the anxious tribespeople rush to open ground.
Authorities fear 7,000 have died in the cluster of more than 550 islands, but have yet to reach all of the three dozen inhabited isles. They hope to do that by Thursday.
On Car Nicobar, the acrid stench of rotting flesh -- human, fish and livestock -- hangs over shattered villages where nothing remains but brick footings of huts, a carpet of torn palm thatch and half-buried possessions.
"When the ground first shook, I thought this was an earthquake. But when the waves came and it kept climbing higher and higher I knew God had meant us to die," said another islander, Augustine. "But my child was there with me and I had to run. Jesus saved us."
Early signs are the toll on Car Nicobar may not be as bad as first feared. Reuters visited about 10 villages on Wednesday, and each headman reported only a few dozen dead or missing.
"One in every five inhabitants in the entire Nicobar group of islands is either dead, injured or missing," said territory police chief S.B. Deol. At least 50,000 people live in the Nicobars, at the southern end of the chain.
"The situation in some of the islands we managed to establish contact with is indeed very, very grim. People have been living on coconuts...and the coconuts are not going to last forever. We need to reach food urgently to these people."
Aircraft dropping emergency supplies report only a third or half the residents of some islands can be accounted for.
The power of Sunday's quake has split one island in two.
"The entire geography of some parts of these islands has changed," said Deol. "Where there was one island before, we now see two. In one place, a tree stands alone in the middle of the ocean."
A shortage of boats and aircraft has hampered rescue operations in the islands, once a place of imprisonment for political dissidents during British rule in India and a haven for smugglers even today. India maintains a strong military presence.
Since Monday, commercial airlines have airlifted about 3,500 mostly tourists to the mainland.
Most people in the Nicobars belong to one of six primitive tribes, some still nomadic hunter-gatherers with virtually no contact with the outside world and numbering about 200.
Real contact was only established with some tribes in 1997.
World ramps up aid pledges as tsunami fallout mushrooms
LONDON (AFP) - Britain and Australia followed Japan and the United States in pledging dramatic increases in emergency aid for victims of the tsunami disaster in Asia as the world community struggled to cope with its mushrooming fallout.
London and Canberra, each pledging the equivalent of nearly 30 million US dollars (22.1 million euros), expected to raise their contributions further as awareness of the scale of the destruction, loss of life and risk of epidemics grew by the hour.
The announcements amounted to a 15-fold increase in commitments from the British government and a three-fold increase from the Australian government, a day after the United States more than doubled its pledge to 35 million dollars.
In Texas, US President George W. Bush said Australia, India, Japan and the United States would form a "core group" to lead relief efforts and hit back at criticism of aid offered by rich countries.
Asked about a report of a UN official referring to wealthy countries as "stingy" in their international aid, Bush said: "I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed."
The United States was also sending an aircraft carrier, helicopter carrier and military forces from Asian bases toward disaster areas to help out.
Japan on Tuesday sent three navy vessels to Thailand and pledged 40 million dollars to provide emergency food, medicine and shelter to victims of the tsunamis.
An Indian official said New Delhi had turned down aid from Israel, Japan, Russia, the United States and other countries as it had "adequate resources" to provide relief to the thousands of Indians.
In Paris, the French government pledged to provide 15 million euros (20.3 million dollars) in disaster aid.
The various government pledges were part of a worldwide humanitarian drive that also involved leading groups like the International Committee of the Red Cross, smaller non-government organizations, ethnic Indian and Sri Lankan communities overseas, corporations, professional associations and religious institutions.
They were all in the process of transferring money or organizing cargo flights carrying food, fresh water, medical supplies, clothing and tents to stricken countries like India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The United Nations has said the international aid needed over the coming months was likely to exceed the previous record UN appeal of 1.6 billion dollars for Iraq last year. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appealed for another 44 million dollars in immediate aid.
With so much aid to be sent to the region, relief officials, government ministers urged the United Nations to take a coordinating role to make sure all victims get exactly what they need.
In announcing the increase in aid pledges in Sydney, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia had "special responsibilities" as a regional neighbor and Indian Ocean littoral state.
Downer, who said most of the aid would go to Indonesia and to a lesser extent Sri Lanka, also committed his government to providing substantial additional assistance to help rebuild the battered nations.
Millions will also go to the Australian branches of non-governmental aid organisations and help relief efforts in other countries like Thailand and the Maldives.
In addition to the federal government aid, Australian states, banks, airlines and telecommunications companies as well as donors were also chipping in. Qantas and Virgin Blue airlines both donated flights to carry medical teams and equipment to the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
After his government defended his staying on in Egypt following the tragedy, vacationing British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave his first reaction to the tragedy that occurred on Sunday.
"This New Year the world is united in sorrow for those affected by one of the biggest natural disasters in our lifetime," Blair said.
His government would use its upcoming chairmanship of the G8 industrial group of nations to help provide aid, he added.
His government earlier pledged 15 million pounds (21.3 million euros, 28.9 million dollars) in immediate aid for the stricken region, up from a commitment of one million pounds.
Oxfam, Save the Children, the British Red Cross, World Vision, and Christian Aid were among many groups which have launched a fundraising appeal under the umbrella of Britain's Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
Relief efforts were also organized by Britain's 1.3 million-strong Indian community, one of the biggest ethnic Indian communities in the world, and 250,000-strong Sri Lankan community.
Spain said it was making available a two-million-euro non-repayable loan and low-interest credits of 48 million euros to help tidal wave victims in south Asia.
The government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the money would be used for reconstruction projects with the condition that some contracts went to Spanish companies.
The Luxembourg government, preparing to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union on Saturday, plans to arrange an emergency EU ministerial meeting at the beginning of January to organize aid for disaster victims.
The Croatian government allocated 520,000 euros for the victims, national television reported.
The Czech Republic was sending a planeload of aid to Thailand while Singapore was sending helicopters, hundreds of military personnel and medical staff to Indonesia.
In addition to traditional Western donors, aid was flowing in from Argentina, Brazil and China, UN officials said.
Impoverished Cambodia was also contributing.
Saudi Arabia said it would give 10 million dollars in emergency funding, while the Turkish government said it would contribute one million dollars to the international relief campaign.
The World Food Programme said some 30,000 to 50,000 people in Somalia were "in need of immediate relief assistance" and that it was facing major logistical obstacles in delivering the aid to northern Hafun island.
Bush Promises Long-Term Help for Asia
CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush assembled a four-nation coalition to organize humanitarian relief for Asia and made clear Wednesday the United States will help bankroll long-term rebuilding in the region leveled by a massive earthquake and tsunamis.
U.S. officials braced for the death toll to exceed 100,000.
"It's just beyond our comprehension to think about how many lives have been lost," Bush said after emerging from a holiday vacation at his Texas ranch to make his first comments on the four-day-old disaster.
U.S. embassy officials continued to hunt for 2,000 to 3,000 Americans who remain unaccounted for, and asked travelers to check in with families and U.S. diplomatic posts. At least 12 Americans are known dead from Sunday's quake and subsequent tsunamis that struck a dozen countries from Thailand to Somalia.
From airlifts of rice and water purifiers to the deployment of an entire Marine expeditionary force, the United States marshaled resources across the globe to augment its initial $35 million aid package and make sure the hardest hit locations got the short-term help they requested.
Bush said he phoned the leaders of stricken countries to solicit specific needs and assure them the initial aid package "is only the beginning of our help." He also laid the foundation for a long-term international recovery plan by forming the coalition with Japan, Australia and India and inviting other nations to join.
"We will prevail over this destruction," Bush promised.
Eventually, Secretary of State Colin Powell told BBC, "this core will expand and the entire international community will be involved to include the European Union " and take up such issues as debt relief for hard-hit countries.
Both the president and officials back in Washington made high-profile efforts to tout the breadth of U.S. aid, ticking off figures they hoped would rebut comments by a U.N. official and others suggesting that the United States had been stingy or slow to react.
The president called the U.N. official's comments Monday "very misguided and ill informed." His State Department spokesman was more blunt: "We don't have anything to apologize for," Richard Boucher said.
During his holiday vacation at his ranch where he was riding his bike and clearing brush, Bush offered condolences to those half-a-globe away struck by the unprecedented death and destruction.
"I know that our fellow citizens are particularly troubled to learn that many of the deaths were young children, and we grieve for their families, their moms and dads who are just, you know, heartsick," he said.
While the death toll stood at more than 75,000 Wednesday, U.S. officials feared it would top six figures as rescue forces get to hard-to-reach locations and the initial shock gives way to disease, hunger and thirst.
"I think it's going to be well over 100,000," said Andrew Natsios, the chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development, which distributes foreign aid.
Natsios' agency was particularly focused on clean water, sanitation and disease, which pose the next threats to ravaged areas.
Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state, will lead a U.S. task force to coordinate the American response and urge other nations to assist in relief efforts. A late night conference call was scheduled to link officials in the four capitals.
Bush said he was open to other ideas, including a suggestion from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for a moratorium on the debt of hard-hit Somalia and Indonesia.
Members of Congress already began sizing up where the next U.S. disaster funds will come from in a budget already stretched by the war on terror and Iraq . "I would recommend rescinding some of the many billions of dollars for Iraq, which remain unspent, in order to help finance the relief operations in South Asia," offered Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record), D-Vt., a frequent Bush critic.
The administration has spent little of the $18.4 billion approved by Congress last year for Iraq reconstruction. It says spending has been slowed by security problems.
In Washington, Joint Chiefs of Staff Director of Operations Lt. Gen. James T. Conway announced new military deployments intended to survey damage and help with recovery. Three military scouting teams began arriving Wednesday in Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Conway said.
The Pentagon has committed six C-130 cargo planes and nine P-3 reconnaissance planes, and diverted warships from Hong Kong and Guam. The ships, some of which will take a week or more to reach the region, carry helicopters, a field hospital and water purification equipment, Conway said.
Bush urged Americans to send cash, not blankets, food or used clothing. "To me it makes more sense to send cash to organizations that could then use that cash to make sure we match resources with specific needs on the ground," he said.
The president also expressed concern that the Asian region wasn't prepared with a warning system that foretold the massive tsunamis and threw his support behind creation of a worldwide system. "It makes sense for the world to come together to develop a warning system to help all nations," he said.
Closer to home, he asked Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Interior Secretary Gale Norton to investigate whether the United States is adequately prepared for tsunamis that might strike U.S. coasts.
Sri Lanka's war machine gears for relief as tsunami toll nears 22,500
COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka mobilised its entire public service and the military into an internationally-backed relief operation to stave off hunger and disease as the tsunami death toll neared 22,500.
The president's relief co-ordinating unit said at least 22,493 people were killed in the worst tragedy to hit a nation otherwise plagued by ethnic bloodshed that has killed 60,000 in three decades.
The government speeded up mass burials for rotting corpses left by a wall of water that killed at more than 80,000 people across Asia after it was touched off by an underwater earthquake Sunday near Indonesia.
Sri Lanka's chief relief co-ordinator, Tilak Ranavirajah, said systems were overloaded and admitted they were still trying to come to grips with the scale of the task ahead.
"We can't even think of guessing the size of the destruction," Ranavirajah told AFP. "The priority is to get the supplies to the people in most need. We have the entire public service and the military mobilised for the job."
For their part, the Tamil Tiger rebels too announced mobilising all their combat and civilian units for the gigantic task of caring for over a million people made destitute overnight.
Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran made no reference to a government offer to join a common relief drive, but said he shared the grief of the country's majority Sinhalese from whom he has been fighting to separate.
Government military and police officials said an operation on the scale of an "all-out war" has been mobilised to push relief and clear debris blocking 500-kilometers (312 miles) of coastal highways from the northeast to the southwest.
The military had early success when about 3,000 villagers believed to have perished in the tidal wave disaster were found alive Wednesday, an AFP correspondent visiting the eastern district of Ampara said.
However, in the south of the island, army soldiers stumbled on 300 corpses at a saltern which had been cut for three days following heavy flooding.
The Tourist Board said 100 foreign nationals were among the dead while another 60 were still reported missing.
Ranavirajah said there were conflicting reports on the death toll. A police body count placed the figure at about 9,000 while other estimates put the death toll at about 18,000, still below the 22,500 figure from the disaster co-ordinating unit.
"The police are going strictly by the body count," he said. "But, there are places where we have not cleared some of the houses flooded by the waves. The toll, therefore could go up, but we can't put a precise figure on it yet."
He said the government was focused on taking care of survivors while ensuring that there was no outbreak of disease. The authorities had fast-tracked the disposal of bodies that were rotting without refrigeration.
Trucks were just getting through to the southern coastal areas where many people have had nothing or very little to eat in the past three days as roads remained blocked.
The agricultural ministry said there was a severe shortage of essentials for people made homeless. The ministry appealed for candles, mosquito repellent, children's clothing, blankets, mats and plastic sheets.
Officials said they had difficulties in getting aid through to the remote areas. They decided to turn down public offers of cooked food because transportation and delivery had become a nightmare.
"We say 'No' to cooked food, but we welcome dry rations," Ranavirajah said.
Sri Lanka also asked Israel to stand down a medical team but to go ahead with sending urgent supplies to treat survivors.
"What we did was to tell them not to go ahead with plans to send 150 medical personnel," a foreign ministry spokesman said. "We have adequate medical and rescue personnel, but not enough accommodation."
The spokesman said that 10 Israeli medical personnel were already in the island helping in the relief effort along with teams from France, Russia, Spain, India, Turkey, Japan, UN agencies and the International Red Cross.
The Red Cross said it had already sent trucks with medicines and cooking utensils for the homeless.
The World Food Program said it sent the first stock of 168 tonnes of food to 12 districts in Sri Lanka to help survivors. Another convoy was travelling to the island's rebel-held north Thursday.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga declared Friday a day of mourning and in a televised address Tuesday night asked her ethnically-divided nation to unite.
She said local and foreign aid was pouring in and believed the nation of 19 million people had the capacity to overcome the disaster.
The Sri Lankan Cricket board, meanwhile, called off its tour to New Zealand and said the team would be back in Sri Lanka by Friday, while the government has asked people to cancel all New Year celebrations and carnivals.
Local officials along the coastal regions called for volunteers to remove decomposing bodies and carry out mass burials in shallow graves.
"Light vehicles can now move on the 160 kilometre (100 mile) stretch from Colombo to Matara," a local official in the southern town of Matara said by telephone.
He said relief was slowly getting through, but more needed to be done to help thousands who had lost their homes. "Most people still have only the clothes they were wearing three days ago," he said.
Relief efforts to Andaman and Nicobar islands remain difficult
CAR NICOBAR, India (AFP) - Relief efforts to the chain of islands in the Indian Ocean among the worst hit by devastating tsunamis are hampered by vast distances, communications cut and destroyed jetties, India said.
The government launched a massive aerial reconnaissance from an air force base on Car Nicobar trying to find survivors among the thousands of people killed by tsunamis earlier this week.
A senior coast guard official on Tuesday reported about 1,000 dead on remote Chowra island in the archipelago, bringing the Andaman death toll to 4,000 -- nearly half India's reported total of 10,850.
Helicopters Wednesday hovered over flattened villages on islands near Car Nicobar where 30,000 lived people before the tsunami hit.
"We could see no traces of villages or houses. There is nothing out there," a helicopter pilot said at the tsunami-mangled air base.
The remote archipelago of 572 islands lies 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) from mainland India and is spread over 800 kilometres (500 miles) north to south.
Jetties that allowed boats to dock at remote islands, fuel depots, small boats that ferried people between islands and communication links were washed away making it necessary to ferry supplies from the mainland just to conduct search operations, Brigader J. Divadoss said.
"There is not one village that has not borne the fury of tidal waves which were seven to eight metres high," said Divadoss, who is in charge of the rescue mission in the Car Nicobar group of 180 islands.
"We cannot see life anywhere but still it's impossible to hazard a guess on the death toll."
The tsunami also killed 109 Indian Air Force pilots, crew and 40 of their relatives, further delaying efforts to provide food, fuel and water to survivors.
"The number of missing is substantial in the Andaman and Nicobar, we have not been able to complete reconnaissance to all the islands," Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi.
Naval ships are heading to remoter locations south, including Cambell Bay on Greater Nicobar island and its sibling, Little Nicobar.
The air force has evacuated an estimated 5,000 surviors in 80 flights from various islands since Sunday to the Andaman capital of Port Blair.
More than 870,000 people have been left homeless in India in the aftermath of the tsunami with the number expected to rise, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters.
However the government said it didn't immediately need massive foreign aid despite offers from several countries including the United States, Japan and Australia.
"We are very grateful to the friendly countries for their gesture but we feel that we can cope up with the situation on our own and we will take their help if needed," Singh said in New Delhi.
On Monday, the Indian government announced five billion rupees (114 million dollars) for relief work and earmarked another two billion rupees (46 million dollars) for has been earmarked to rebuild rural housing.
International aid groups such as UNICEF and the Red Cross were working with the government to provide survival packs of food, water, chlorine tablets, clothes and kitchen utensils.
Clean water remained scarce in many of the remote villages affected in southern coastal states as well as the islands, UNICEF said.
As well, concern that decomposing bodies could spread disease led to mass cremations in harder hit areas such as Nagapattinam, which had almost half of the estimated 6,073 people killed in Tamil Nadu state.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people remain unaccounted for on the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago which lies close to the epicentre of the huge earthquake off Indonesia on Sunday that sent massive waves crashing across the Indian Ocean that have killed more than 80,000 in the region.
"So where are the rest? No one would ever know. My commanding officer's wife died but there is no trace of her body. He is searching for it everywhere and that is the story in every village," the helicopter pilot said.
Meghna Rajshekhar, the 13-year-old daughter of a killed pilot, was found alive Tuesday clutching a wooden door that had bobbed 13 kilometres away from the debris-ridden coast of Nicobar.
"That was perhaps the only miracle on this paradise on Earth. We have not seen any more," said V.V. Bandhopadyay, the air base station commander of Nicobar, which is just 10 kilometres in width.
Blessed with miles of pristine beaches and a rich variety of animal life, New Delhi has carried out little development there, intending to leave indigenous tribespeople in peace.
"Our village had 6,000 people and we saw with our own eyes a third of our neighbours drown in the monster waves. But still not a single one of the bodies has surfaced," said Manavendra Mondal of Lapati village.
"The sea has just swallowed them as a whole," Mondal said.
'Where Are You?' Resonates on Web Sites
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - On hundreds of Web sites worldwide, the messages are brief but poignant: "Missing: Christina Blomee in Khao Lak" or "Where are you?" Some are nothing more than names, ages, nationalities. Others list details of where loved ones were last seen. Some have pictures of the missing.
All convey the aching desperation of people from Italy to the United States seeking news about family or friends caught in the earthquake and tsunami waves that ravaged southern Asia.
Web sites and blogs have become the announcement boards and lost and founds for a disaster that has left many thousands of people unaccounted for, including 2,000 to 3,000 Americans and thousands more Europeans and other non-Asian visitors to the region.
On the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Web site, dozens of people posted notes seeking someone.
"Does anyone have news of my colleague Chuck Kearcik and his wife Melinda and children Candice and Charlie (US citizens working in Kuwait, vacationing in the Maldives)?" asked Andy of Kuwait City.
Cheryl Boehm of Houston searched for her father, Jesse L. Adams. "He is an American citizen and is retired living on South Pattaya Beach. Please contact me with any information as I have no way to find or communicate with him right now! Please help me find my Dad!!"
Another, Jaclyn Higgs of California, pleaded for help in finding her family. "I am desperately trying to contact my four-year old son Aidan Ashburn-Higgs and his father Jeffrey Ashburn who both flew into Thailand on Sunday. I have not heard from them since they left the airport in San Francisco. If you see this, please let me know you are safe."
Others sent text messages from across continents in a bid to find those who are missing.
In Sweden and Denmark, mobile phone operators stopped charging for mobile calls to and from Southeast Asia for 48 hours to make it easier for survivors to get in touch with their families.
"We thought it would be a nice move from cellular phone companies," said Robert Neimanas of the Swedish group Telia's branch in Denmark.
The Swedish companies also sent text messages to all Swedish-registered phones in Thailand asking subscribers to call their families or the Swedish Embassy.
The State Department urged American travelers to get in touch with loved ones back home. "Call your mother," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday.
In the Nordic nations, blogs and Internet bulletin boards were rife with queries about people among the 2,700 missing Finns, Norwegians, Swedes and Danes.
"Veronika Priebe Jakobsson and her family? They were in Thailand? Has anyone heard from them?" asked one post on the Phuket Disaster Message Board.
Another message, from Glen Barlow, said: "We are looking for Nigel, Lotta and little Alec from Sweden." It adds details about Briton Nigel Atterbury, his Swedish partner Liselott Hallberg and their 3-year-old son, Alec.
One of the lucky few, Barlow posted another message less than six hours later saying the family had been found and was flying home.
Valerio Natale, a 14-year-old Italian, started a Web site a year ago about "The Simpsons" television show, but this week he replaced it with a site for Italians searching for missing relatives.
"I just wanted to help," said the teenager, who lives in the village of Amelia in Italy's central Umbria region. "Everyone has to make a contribution when something like this happens."
He said 20 people in Italy had contacted him by Wednesday asking for information about missing relatives.
Some used the Internet to link names with photos, sometimes with a happy ending.
On Wednesday, a Swedish toddler, Hannes Bergstroem, was reunited with his injured father at a Thai hospital, days after being found wandering alone in the wreckage. The 2-year-old's uncle had spotted the child's photo posted on the Web by another hospital and claimed him Tuesday, setting up the reunion with Hannes' father, Marko Karkkainen.
But Hannes' mother, Suzanne Bergstroem, was still among some 5,000 people missing in Thailand.
It's an example of the reach and immediacy of modern technology. With cell phones, thousands of people in the disaster zone were able to send text messages to newspapers and television stations getting word back home.
For people with a less personal interest, the Internet also provided images and news of the destruction, including firsthand accounts from bloggers who lived through the waves and quickly posted pictures and descriptions.
One site, http://www.2bangkok.com , filed nonstop reports about the disaster, offering links to news reports, pictures from Thai television and other blogs, as well as photos found on the Internet.
Authorities also were using cell phones to track people's whereabouts. In Denmark, the National Police said Wednesday that Danish telecom companies would provide information about all cellular phone communications between Denmark and Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3.
"This will allow us to identify people and find out when and what calls they make to map their whereabouts," Niels-Otto Fisker said. "It will be a piece in the huge jigsaw puzzle."
Some people turned to blogs to raise money and awareness of the disaster.
A group of people in Bombay, India, started a blog, http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com , to list contact numbers, addresses and links for those interested in helping.
"We give them the whole resources, avenues to contribute, volunteer," said Dina Mehta, a 37-year-old consultant.
The site also provides a place for readers to post messages and replies about those missing. And it has contributors from across the disaster zone, including one in Sri Lanka who updates by sending text messages from his cell phone.
"We're not really doing the relief work. It's just intended to be a house for all resources, so people don't have to run around looking everywhere," Mehta said. "Or if someone lost a relative or has a missing (relative), we wanted to be able to give them a voice."
Amazon.com is asking its users to make a donation for disaster relief through its Web site. America Online said it started a site for its members to make donations to relief agencies, and said the company itself had donated $200,000 through the American Red Cross .
The International Red Cross started its own Web site Wednesday to help people track down survivors.
It has sections for Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and India, which were the hardest hit by the quake and ocean surges. Most registrations on the first day were by people seeking missing from the Nordic countries, Britain, Germany, France and the United States, particularly California.
On the Net:
Tsunami Help: http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com
Red Cross: http://www.icrc.org/home.nsf/home/webfamilylinks
Phuket Disaster Message Board: http://www.p-h-u-k-e-t.com/forum
Disaster beyond comprehension: Thai rescue workers
Khao Lak, December 29, 2004
In his 32 years of rescue work, Thai volunteer Somsak Palawat has never experienced anything like it: 600 bodies retrieved by him and his team in a single district obliterated by Sunday's tsunamis.
As director of Ruam Katanyu, one of Thailand's two largest charitable foundations that assists with rescue work, Somsak admits to being desensitised to death, but even he has been astonished at the events of recent days.
"There are just so many dead. Everywhere we look, everywhere we go there are dead bodies," Somsak, who normally works in Bangkok, said in Takua Pa district which until Sunday included the resort town of Khao Lak.
"In the last two days in Takua Pa our team alone had recovered 600 bodies. This is the worst I have seen," he said.
Khao Lak has emerged as the ground zero of Thailand's tsunami apocalypse. A wall of water barreled through the area at least three kilometres inland, leaving hundreds of bodies strewn on streets, hanging among trees, floating in swimming pools and trapped in resort rubble.
It was emergency crews consisting in large measure of volunteers such as Somsak and his comrades, who found, gathered, tagged and wrapped the bodies.
Another rescue volunteer, Nattaphol Chuaykongka, had spent the last 72 hours on similar duty in and out of once-idyllic Phi Phi island off the coast of Krabi province, pulling bodies, mainly of holidaying Western tourists, out of the ruins.
"It is bigger than anything I've ever seen," Nattaphol, exhausted with barely an hour's catnap per day, said.
UN targets Indian Ocean tsunami alert system by end 2005
GENEVA (AFP) - A United Nations agency said that it wanted a tidal wave warning system set up in the Indian Ocean by the end of next year.
Salvano Briceno, head of the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, reiterated that a system similar to the one in operation for decades in the nearby Pacific Ocean could have allowed thousands of victims to reach safety.
The death toll climbed above 80,000 Wednesday, three days after tidal waves triggered by the largest earthquake in the world for 40 years swept through coastal areas around the Indian Ocean, spanning Asia and Africa.
"I want to see every coastal country around south Asia and southeast Asia has at least a basic but effective tsunami warning system by this time next year," Briceno said.
"There is no reason it cannot be done," he added, saying that governments in the area and technical agencies wanted to act.
"It's more a matter of political will and political priority, Briceno told journalists.
"We are struggling with governments to invest in preventing risks rather than responding to disasters," he added.
Briceno warned that the Caribbean and Mediterranean Sea could also be affected by tidal waves following earthquakes, even if a deadly tsunami might only happen once a century.
While the Pacific warning system for tsunami -- tidal waves triggered by undersea tremors -- stretching from the United States to Japan and Russia was technically accomplished, Briceno said an initial step in the Indian Ocean could involve simple communication between countries.
Sunday's undersea earthquake near Indonesia was immediately recorded by seismologists around the world, but warnings of tidal waves did not reach the coastal areas in the Indian Ocean because no communications network was in place.
Earlier US President George W. Bush called for international efforts to set up a global tsunami alert system.
"Part of the long-term strategy in how to deal with a natural disaster is to make sure we, the world, have a proper tsunami warning system."
He said the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga had raised the need for an alert system during recent talks.
"Clearly there wasn't a proper warning system in place for that part of the world. And it seems like to me it makes sense for the world to come together to develop a warning system that will help all nations," Bush said.
The UN is due to hold an international conference in Kobe, Japan next month on disaster reduction measures. It was planned several months ago.
Scientists: Tsunami Could Hit West Coast
By JOSEPH B. VERRENGIA, Associated Press Writer
Tsunami scientists and public safety officials are closely watching an earthquake-prone nation with thousands of miles of crowded coastlines for signs of an imminent disaster. Indonesia? Japan? Try the United States.
Experts say the West Coast could experience a calamity similar to the one they have been watching unfold half a world away.
"People need to know it could happen," said geologist Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey .
Scientists say grinding geologic circumstances similar to those in Sumatra also exist just off the Pacific Northwest coast. They are a loaded gun that could trigger a tsunami that could hit Northern California, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia in minutes too fast for the nation's deep-sea tsunami warning system to help.
In fact, Atwater said there was a 9.0 earthquake under the Pacific more than 300 years ago that had devastating consequences. He and other scientists last year reported finding evidence of severe flooding in the Puget Sound area in 1700, including trees that stopped growing after "taking a bath in rising tide waters."
The danger rests just 50 miles off the West Coast in a 680-mile undersea fault known as the Cascadia subduction zone that behaves much like one that ruptured off Sumatra. The 1700 quake occurred along the Cascadia fault.
Scientists say a giant rupture along the fault would cause the sea floor to bounce 20 feet or more, setting off powerful ocean waves relatively close to shore. The first waves could hit coastal communities in 30 minutes or less, according to computer models.
Seattle; Vancouver, British Columbia; and other big cities in the region probably would be relatively protected from deadly flooding because of their inland locations. But other, smaller communities could be devastated.
And while buildings in the United States are far more solid than the shacks and huts that were obliterated in some of Asia's poor villages, few structures could withstand nearby tremors as powerful as those that occurred Sunday in Sumatra.
Moreover, such a quake would be way too close to shore for the nation's network of deep-sea wave gauges to be of any help.
Even in the case of quakes happening farther out in the Pacific or in Alaska, the U.S. warning system might not be adequate.
The network which consists of six deep-sea instruments in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii and near the equator off the coast of Peru is thin and scattered, and at least two of the gauges in Alaska are not even reporting daily wave readings. Also, predicting where a tsunami is likely to come ashore cannot be done with the kind of precision seen in hurricane forecasts.
Eddie N. Bernard, who directs the network for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the six sensors are the "bare minimum" for adequate warning. He said there are plans to expand the system to 20 sensors in the next five years, including 10 gauges for the seismically active Aleutian Islands.
Whether the continental United States is vulnerable to tsunamis from Asian earthquakes is another question. Hawaii and parts of Alaska certainly are exposed, but whether earthquake fault lines in Japan and Southeast Asia are oriented in the right directions to send tsunamis all they way to the Lower 48 states is debatable.
As for the Atlantic Coast, a tsunami is considered extremely unlikely.
Some computer models suggest East Coast cities are vulnerable to a large tsunami if there were a huge volcanic eruption and landslide in the Canary Islands, off northwest Africa. But other researchers say such an event would happen only once in 10,000 years, and such a disruption is unlikely to occur all at once.
More related news
How rich and famous coped (December 30, 2004)
Rich and poor alike were swept up by Asia's killer tsunami, with a supermodel, multi-millionaire football players, royalty and movie stars among those running for their lives. Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova clung to a palm tree for eight hours in the devastated Thai resort of Khao Lak after being hit by a wall of water in Sunday's deadly tidal waves, her publicist in New York said. Her British boyfriend, fashion photographer Simon Atlee, is missing. "People were screaming and kids were screaming all over the place, screaming 'help, help'. And after a few minutes you didn't hear the kids any more," Nemcova told The New York Daily News from her hospital bed in Thailand. There was no lucky escape for Bhumi Jensen, the 21-year-old grandson of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej who was killed at the same popular resort area when the waves struck. "It's a national tragedy," said a grim-faced PM Thaksin Shinawatra. British actor and film director Richard Attenborough was also in mourning after the death of his granddaughter in the Thai catastrophe. Attenborough's eldest daughter Jane is missing, as is her mother-in-law, Jane Holland. CLIP
Tsunami effect: Days get shorter (December 30, 2004)
The deadly Asian quake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation, shortening days by a fraction of a second, US scientists have said.Richard Gross, a NASA geophysicist, theorised that a shift of mass toward the Earths centre during Sundays quake had caused the planet to spin 3 microseconds or one millionth of a second faster and to tilt about an inch on its axis.When one huge tectonic plate beneath the Indian Ocean was forced below the edge of another it had the effect of making the Earth more compact and spin faster, Gross said. He said changes predicted by his model are probably too minuscule to be detected by a global-positioning satellite network, but said the data may reveal a slight wobble. Earths continual motion is just used to changing. It does slow down and change its rate of rotation. When these tiny variations accumulate, planetary scientists must add a leap second to the end of a year, something that has not been done for years, Gross said.
Disaster mystery: No dead animals (12-29-4)
Sri Lankan wildlife officials stunned by lack of carcasses - As the human death toll from Sunday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami continues to skyrocket in Asia, a mystery is unfolding in Sri Lanka. Somehow, the animals survived the disaster. According to reports out of Colombo, Sri Lankan wildlife officials are said to be stunned. "The strange thing is we haven't recorded any dead animals," H.D.Ratnayake, deputy director of the national Wildlife Department, told Reuters. "No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit." "I think animals can sense disaster," he added. "They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening." The sentiment was echoed by Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, whose Jetwing EcoHolidays runs a hotel in the Yala National Park, the country's largest wildlife reserve where hundreds of wild elephants dwell along with some 130 other species. "This is very interesting. I am finding bodies of humans, but I have yet to see a dead animal,'' he told the Associated Press. Floodwaters reportedly rushed up to two miles inland at the park, where 41 human bodies have been recovered so far, including 13 foreigners,according to Lanka Business Online. Wildlife officers reportedly found a 13-year-old boy yesterday morning, the only survivor of the tsunami at the park. Wildlife Conservation Director General Dayananda Kariyawasam told the paper except for dead fish, no carcasses of animals have been found. The human death toll in Sri Lanka exceeds 21,000.
At the Epicenter, Tales of Death (Dec 29) http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/123004X.shtml
(...) Aceh Province stands out amid the disaster's deepening toll, not only because it was closest to the earthquake's epicenter, but because the disaster has intruded on a region in the grip of a civil war. Aceh has been under martial law since May of last year, when five months of peace talks between separatist rebels and the government broke down. The president at the time, Megawati Sukarnoputri, dispatched 40,000 troops to secure the province, whose oil and gas resources are vital to government revenue. The government declared a cease-fire after the earthquake, and observers said the truce appeared to be holding, allowing relief workers to tend to survivors. In Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, reports are filtering in of thousands of bodies, some lined up outside a city mosque. Others are being carried away in army trucks. The American Consulate in Medan, more than 200 miles down the eastern coast, received reports that the waters around Banda Aceh had swirled as far as 10 miles inland. Tadepalli Murty, a professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada who has modeled the potential of tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, estimated that the waves that hit Banda Aceh could have been as tall as 15 meters, or nearly 50 feet.
NAIROBI (Reuters Dec 30, 2004) - An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Somalis need immediate relief aid in coastal towns devastated by waves whipped up by an earthquake in Asia, the United Nations said on Wednesday. Efforts to rush relief food to Hafun, one of the worst-hit towns, have been held up because waves washed away the road to it, and diseases are now starting to take hold, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) added in a statement.
TOKYO (Reuters Dec 30, 2004) - European leaders prepared their citizens for the worst as hopes dimmed for nearly 5,000 tourists, half of them Swedes and Germans, still missing four days after a tsunami tore through some of Asia's most popular beach resorts. Authorities said on Thursday that nearly 83,000 people had been killed by walls of water, generated by an undersea earthquake, that slammed into Indonesia, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and other countries as far away as Africa. Officially, only 212 foreign tourists have been reported as killed by their home countries, but Thailand alone has said that at least 435 foreigners had died there. Some 1,500 Swedes, 1,000 Germans, 600 Italians, 464 Norwegians, 219 Danes, 200 Finns and 200 Czechs were reported as missing by their countries, along with 294 Singaporean tourists. More than a thousand others, including 930 Norwegians, are still unaccounted for. Many of them could be among the 6,043 missing in Thailand, where the official death toll rose to 1,975.
From calamity comes humanity (Bangkok Post, Dec 30, 2004) The spontaneous outpouring of support from people from all walks of life and from corporations and private and government organisations for victims of Sunday's killer tsunami is heartening indeed. The rare sight of people crowding centres to donate blood, of entertainers busying themselves soliciting contributions from the public, of motorists offering rides to strangers in disaster-affected areas, of students volunteering to serve as interpreters between relief workers and foreign tourists, and of others simply donating whatever they can spare and afford is a clear indication that the victims have not been, nor will they be, abandoned. There is still hope amidst all the gloom. Catastrophes of the magnitude of the earthquake and resultant tsunamis on Sunday bring out the best in human nature, the basic humanity of people who otherwise can be consumed by greed, anger and delusion.
Earth Changes predictor events? I would be remiss not to comment on the terrific Quakes Disaster of recent days. First, on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2004, we were shocked by the news: "The world's biggest earthquake in almost four years has struck 800 km off the coast of Tasmania," Australian seismological officials said. Then, the day after Christmas, the U.S. Geological Survey reported: "A great earthquake occurred at 00:58:50 (UTC) on Sunday, December 26, 2004. The magnitude 9.0 event has been located off the west coast of northern Sumatra." This great quake is depicted as the largest in 40 years. Having two Great Quakes just two days apart is astounding. Their positioning, on opposite sides of the planet, suggests a broad event sequence. The second Quake was so powerful that an Italian geophysicist reported that it affected the rotation of the Earth. Is this massive geophysical events-cluster, occurring just as we get ready to cross over and enter the 2005-2006 event-window foreseen by various experiencers, a foretaste of things to come?The summary (below) provided by the USGS of events just in the past seven days may provide a clue. http://wwwneic.cr.usgs.gov/neis/bulletin/bulletin.html - Sent by "Richard Boylan" firstname.lastname@example.org> on Dec 27
Tsunamis and Nuclear Power Plants (Dec 2) http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/123004W.shtml
(...) The "sea wall" at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station ("SONGS") in Southern California is 35 feet tall, and about 35 years old. It could not have withstood Sunday's worst. San Onofre's twin reactors were theoretically designed to withstand an earthquake up to 7.0, which is 100 times smaller than a 9.0 earthquake. Although a 9.0 earthquake is considered "unlikely" near San Onofre, it is hardly impossible. In addition, the size of the earthquake doesn't necessarily relate to the size of the ensuing tsunami. Landslides triggered by earthquakes, asteroid impacts, and volcanic eruptions can generate waves hundreds of feet tall. Why did we build nuclear power plants near the ocean, anyway, where they are susceptible to underwater and surface attacks by terrorists and other belligerents? Because nuclear power plants need enormous quantities of water for their cooling systems, and water - especially in the western United States - is usually difficult to find except along the shoreline. The outflow from a nuclear power plant is always slightly contaminated with radioactive particles, and sometimes severely so; people don't want to drink that. So they put the plants near the oceans whenever possible. Don't worry about tsunamis, they said - we've built you this puny little wall. Don't worry about asteroid impacts - they hardly ever happen. Don't worry about tornados or hurricanes. Don't worry about human error. So, society agreed to these poisonous cauldrons of bubbling radioactivity - these behemoths of death-rays ready to burst - these sitting ducks on our shorelines.
Animation of all quake activity over the last 20 years from space
8. Asian Tsunami Hails Ecological Collapse
From: "Dr. Glen Barry" email@example.com>
Subject: EARTH MEANDERS: Asian Tsunami Hails Ecological Collapse
Date: 28 Dec 2004
Asian Tsunami Hails Ecological Collapse
Rising seas, coastal development, over-population and loss of mangroves and coral reefs make such natural disasters more likely and deadly
Earth Meanders, http://www.environmentalsustainability.info/
By Dr. Glen Barry
December 28, 2004
Asia's recent utterly tragic tsunami was caused by a natural earthquake, but worsened by human activities. The reactionary anti-Earth right has been quoted several times in recent days as saying it was only a matter of time until environmentalists blamed the catastrophe on global warming and other environmental causes. Well here goes...
There is nothing new in tidal waves and storm surges hitting coastlines. This has shaped and molded both coastal geography and plant communities forever. This is why traditional peoples rarely lived right on the beach, preferring to reside back a bit. This tidal wave was so damaging because of commercial coastal development, Asia's perilous over-population, and destruction of protective coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs (by over-harvest, climate caused bleaching, and dynamite fishing) and mangroves (particularly for shrimp farming).
The Asian Tsunami is indicative of the types of problems that global warming can and will exacerbate. It is known conclusively that climate change is raising sea levels, at least 10-20 cm over the past century, and it is expected this century's increases will be even greater. There is no doubt that all else equal, higher sea levels would contribute to greater damage from such waves. Simply - if you stand up quickly in a full bathtub, it is more likely to overflow than if half full.
Rising sea levels - in the absence of protective coral reefs and mangroves, and presence of recent human coastal developments - guarantee that any tidal wave will prove maximally destructive. As Jeff McNeely, chief scientist of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN), explains: "When a tsunami comes in, it first hits the coral reef which slows it down, then it hits the mangroves which further slows it down. It may get through that but by then a lot of the energy has already been dissipated."
This tidal wave is the most recent "natural disaster" indicative of ecological collapse commencing on a planetary scale, first exhibiting itself particularly hard in Asia. This is because Asia is unrivaled in terms of intensive land alterations and ecological destruction over millennia. This is anything but an aberration, as deadly flooding and droughts have become routine in deforested areas of the Philippines, Indonesia and China.
Simply, Asia's current population can not be sustained given current natural capital and spiraling climate change. Asian ecosystems have overshot their carrying capacity, and we are witnessing what happens when humans live without regard to ecology. Lasting social recovery and ecological sustainability throughout Tsunami impacted coastal Asia will depend upon restoring mangroves, coral reefs and other natural coastal ecosystems, while restricting coastal development.
More systematically - in Asia, and indeed globally - failure to address climate change, deforestation and over-population means massive man-abetted natural disasters will increasingly become the norm.
This observation is made with utmost respect and concern for current and future victims of ecocide. Humanity has long abused the Earth - and we continue to do so at great risk. The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth. As goes the Earth will go humanity.
** Earth Meanders is a series of personal essays regarding environmental sustainability and related matters. Opinions expressed are those of the author. An archive of past writings can be found at: http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/
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9. Global Wave of Compassion for the New Year 2005
Sent by Deborah Moldow email@example.com> on December 29, 2004
Greeting the New Year 2005 With a Global Wave of Compassion
A Time of Heartache
As we prepare to leave 2004 behind, our hearts go out to the people in so many countries around the Indian Ocean where devastation has struck. Create a Global Wave of Compassion: Add your prayer to the Tsunami Victims Heartfelt Book of Prayers. http://www.worldpeace.org/guest/tsunami04book.html
The tsunamis follow a season that brought intense hurricane damage to Haiti and the United States, and forceful typhoons striking Japan and The Philippines. Our mother earth is experiencing turbulent times indeed.
This year armed conflicts raged in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Sudan, central Africa, Colombia, Nepal, Kashmir and Israel/Palestine. Terrorists attacked in many countries. The integrity of the United Nations has been questioned.
A Time of Hope
It is time for us to join together as the one human family that we are, in love, compassion and solidarity. Every life is precious. We must use our creative and material resources to support one another and not to add to the destruction.
Make some time during your own New Year celebration to pray for peace and healing for the earth and all who share her bounties. May there be justice and abundance for all peoples. May we learn to live in harmony with nature, with one another and with all life on earth.
Pray for world peace each day! Join with us at 12 noon to create a powerful worldwide wave of prayer: May Peace Prevail on Earth.
We also invite you to join the Global Four Directions Prayer for Peace, a 24-hour effort to end the war and global violence, from 12 noon December 31 through January 1. See http://www.fourdirectionsprayerforglobalhealing.org
May 2005 bring you, your family and all our global family new horizons of infinite happiness.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH!
The World Peace Prayer Society
10. An All-Purpose Appeal to Peace-lovers Everywhere from Global Family Day Founders
On January 1, 2005 the fifth anniversary of the successful United Nations declared "One Day in Peace January 1, 2000" now called GLOBAL FAMILY Day a number of extraordinary peace provoking events will again take place. We, the founders of these movements believe we can be joined to create a sweeping wave of caring and sharing around the world.
Our joint efforts can start to bring the improvement in human relationships that are so urgently needed if our crowded and quarrelsome species is to survive. It's clear that before long, as citizens of a globalize world we will have to learn to act as one family No two ways about it!
From Australia, USA and other nations, at 12:01 am January 1, united peace organizations will send a GLOBAL THOUGHT message urging all peoples to join in devoting at least 10% of their time and energy or their money this year to achieving a world of peace and sharing.
On 1 January 2005 "Think Globally, Act Locally" will not just be a slogan it will become The Fashion of the Millennium!
What will make a difference is what we do with our 10% in order to create global peace! This means starting your special bank account with your own money and/or setting up a regular schedule for service and volunteer work. People will realize that as individuals we can make a real difference in this world.
Call your 10% account the "Love thy Neighbor Account" or "Do Good Account" or "The Love Account." The name is up to you. This account is separate from what people normally spend their money on. It is not meant for Birthdays, Christmas, Chanukah, or Anniversary presents. These events are part of people's everyday life and are therefore part of the 90%.
Businesses can also set aside 10% of their money or time to help bring world peace.
The 10% is to give of yourself and/or your business unconditionally, instead of giving in order to receive a tax deduction for your donation. The value of this account is not just the money, it is also the time you spend thinking about how you can use this money to make this world a better place for all of us.
On GLOBAL FAMILY Day, January 1st, on behalf of First Families from all continents who have endorsed the annual celebration of GLOBAL FAMILY Day.
First Lady Chief (Mrs.) Stella Obasanjo, and President Olusegun Obasanjo will host the first virtual "whole world family supper" at their farm in NIGERIA. Connecting to other world capitals by satellite, they hope to call attention to and specifically direct the efforts of our global family to ending the tragedy of Darfur and sending aid there. We believe this is an excellent first project for a movement dedicated to the eradication of hate and hunger.
GLOBAL FAMILY Day 2005
In Times Square, at midnight New Year's Eve we are asking Regis Philbin to invite all the families in the world to join in celebrating GLOBAL FAMILY Day 2005 - by making a personal pledge of nonviolence for 2005 and helping the hungry, by reaching out to those of other cultures, and, at sometime during the day, gathering for a special meal with friends or family, thus symbolically breaking bread with all other members of our human family. It is our hope to persuade up to one billion people to do so.
The theme for this year's Rose Parade is, appropriately and providentially to CELEBRATE FAMILY. We are asking Pasadena parade officials to announce, periodically, during the day, the advent of the world's first holiday observance to CELEBRATE FAMILY in the very biggest way possible. Family includes every race, religion, and political belief. When we say family, we mean EVERYBODY!
Cora Weiss and the founders of the Hague Appeal brought many of us together at the Hague Appeal for Peace in 1999. Now let all peace-lovers again gather, symbolically at 12:01 a.m. January 1, 2005, using the power of collective thought to unite us.
Let us come together through the Internet, through media, through person-to-person contact, through drumming and making rainbows, by sharing food and games and music. Let us create a sense of peace and a reality of peace, just as most everyone in the world did on "One Day in Peace January 1, 2000" details at http://www.vicnet.net.au/~wp2000au or http://www.supportworldpeace2000.org
At that time people in 140 countries and 50 National Governments were united for peace.
On January first of 2005, let us gather together in our minds, and let our collective Global Thought coalesce at the home of the leader of the African Union. And as we do, let's consider giving moral and material support to that Union in its efforts to bring peace to war-torn people.
The words "Support Our Troops" have never had greater meaning than when applied to those pitifully alone several hundred men from a handful of countries that are attempting to stop the slaughter currently taking place in Sudan.
Let us call in supporting all troops that we all take responsibility for creating an end to terror around the world. That we stop it for ever, so we never again spill the blood of innocent victims and our soldiers because of hunger, poverty, rage, commercial greed, different religious and or political beliefs.
Many groups like ours constantly call for peace. However it has been difficult to obtain financial support as in our materialistic society it is difficult to sell. "Peace" is thought of by some people as a static thing, as refraining from action and living life, rather than actually doing something.
To others, ironically, Word Peace only conjures up the images of protesters against a political or religious enemy of some sort, nothing further from the truth! In the True Peace Movement we cannot, and do not have enemies!
Peace it is not a physical product that everyone can own yet everyone can and will feel its benefits therefore must be forever in fashion. It is a way of living. It is a part of life, without it we are no different to people and animals living in the cave age, the rule of the stronger of the fittest, whilst heading for total CHAOS, total war and global famine!
World Peace is about civilized people enjoying and sharing the fruits of our join discoveries!
That is why, when we wrote the resolution for One Day in Peace now called Global Family Day was unanimously passed in 2000 by the US Congress and World Peace 2000 in Australia attracted some 180,000 Australians who motivated their individual States and local Governments endorsements including Stonnington City's World Peace Monument. Millions of people around the world joined us to celebrate our "ONE DAY OF PEACE AND SHARING."
Sharing of food and sharing of cultures, because as long as hate and hunger haunt this earth there can be no peace. World Peace is dependent upon sharing. Greater peace brings more abundant sharing. More abundant sharing automatically creates greater peace. It's very simple!
There's another truth that needs stating. The new threat of global terrorism calls urgently for new solutions. In this day and age, governments can never make peace unless the people also make peace. And believe it or not, most heads of state want peace at least as much as the rest of us do. They want their families safe. No child in this world will be safe until all children are safe. That is why we need to communicate with and partner with the First Families of the world. They need to understand, and we do too, that they are just like us.
Now, with the help of World Peace 2000, We the World and Global Family Foundation, plus many other groups worldwide, all together we are hoping to actively enlist many of the world's most prominent heads of government and their families in popularizing GLOBAL FAMILY Day every year, therefore we are starting with the expansion of our GLOBAL THOUGHT.
You can help. Write to the First Family of your country today, c/o firstname.lastname@example.org, asking that they join in observing the symbolic "whole world family supper" being held this year by another First Family on a farm in Africa. Ask them to invite the citizens of your country to observe the global family day.
Then sign up for GLOBAL FAMILY Day yourself on http://www.globalfamilyday.com - Your RSVP can help to change to a world in which all of our children will be safe forever.
The actions we request you take are simple:
1. Share our GLOBAL THOUGHT message urging all peoples to join in.
2. Devote at least 10% of your time and energy.
3. Devote at least 10% of your money for peace.
We can all do this in our families; our suburbs and cities· you could create your own peace program. Or you can join the ongoing world peace programs of the organisations mentioned below.
Thank you for supporting World Peace. May Peace Prevail on Earth!
Co-Founders GLOBAL FAMILY Day:
Linda Grover (USA) e-mail: email@example.com
Richard A Fletcher (Australia) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Ulfik (USA) e-mail: RickUlfik@WeTheWorld.org
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For more information, please review the material posted by the Global Meditation Focus Group at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/focusgroup.htm
THANK YOU FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN PASSING THIS ON TO OTHERS
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