Statistics matter little to the bereaved

Back in Amsterdam after spending the Christmas break with family and friends in the UK, and my first post is concerned only with the deepening tragedy in Asia following Sunday’s earthquake and resulting tsunamis.

This has been widely reported just about everywhere.  The best online reporting I’ve seen is on the BBC News site – In Depth: Asia Quake Disaster.

According to some reports, the death toll has now reached 50,000 and undoubtedly will increase significantly. In addition, there are the thousands injured as well as millions now homeless.

Watching a CNN TV report last night about the disaster, the news reporter spoke about this tragedy as being by no means the worst natural disaster we have seen in recent years (which I would define as within the past 50 years). You could think about the Bangladesh cyclone in 1970, which killed half a million people. Or the China earthquake in 1976 which killed a quarter of a million people. Or the 30,000 killed in the Iran earthquake in 2003. Or even the 25,000 animals killed in the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980.

None of these statistics matter a damn if you’re a villager living on the coast of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, India or any of the other places devastated in this tragedy (see the appeal for help by the Red Cross), and you’ve lost your family. Your whole world, in fact, has been simply destroyed.

It’s impossible to imagine what that must be like if you haven’t experienced it.

One thought on “Statistics matter little to the bereaved

  1. Asian Seaquake

    Ever since Christmas we have been seeing the rising toll of casualties in Asia to incomprehensible height, after disaster struck. (By comparison the death toll now stands roughly at the number of inhabitants in my home town. Impossible to imagine,…

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