The agony for Sweden continues

While pledges for financial aid continue to mount in the aftermath of the Asian earthquake and tsunami two weeks ago, the nightmare continues for millions of people in South Asia whose lives have been destroyed by this tragedy.

The same is true in a wholly different way for the families of the thousands of foreign visitors who are missing. I wrote a few days ago about there being an estimated 10,000 tourists still missing in the region. It’s almost unimaginable that this horror appears to be without any end in sight.

For the UK, the number of missing has now more than doubled, from nearly 200 to over 440.

But Sweden is the country outside the disaster region that’s enduring the most suffering right now, as well as undergoing much soul-searching in social attitudes – and considerable anger towards the government for how it’s dealing with this crisis.

From a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:

While 52 Swedes are confirmed dead, around 2,000 – among them leading businessmen, politicians and sports stars – remain missing or unaccounted for. This would be a huge blow to any nation, but particularly to this tight-knit family of just nine million. The scale of its loss would be equivalent to Britain losing 12,600 of its citizens.

At first, even the government did not want to face up to the awful truth, taking almost 48 hours to react to reports that the Swedish toll was heavy. Now it has angered a normally reticent, placid people by refusing to publish a list of the missing in order to “protect our citizens”.

Telegraph | News | Complacency of the Swedes drains away as death toll keeps rising (registration required)

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2 thoughts on “The agony for Sweden continues

  1. Neville, I certainly feel empathy for the people of Sweden. My brother was in Thailand. He, thankfully, is OK.
    I know numbers can get foolish, in the face of such pain. But your post made me think.
    To further put it in perspective, that could be about 69,000 in the USA. Roughly the population of Auburn/Opelika (67,000) – where I live. Personal thoughts aside – I am just trying to grasp what that would mean to any area of the country, to any country. I can’t. But for Sweden, so closely knit – so close together, it is unimaginable and a devastating blow.
    For South Asia, the certain further deaths from injuries and disease just makes the horror too hard, too brutal.
    Seems like several governments are not handling this crisis well. We certainly had our problems.
    Add to that, the survivor’s guilt. All those returning from what should have been a holiday, and now facing life without loved ones. I know my brother, having been there and knowing people that live there, will feel it. And he was travelling alone.
    Thank goodness the relief efforts now seem to be fully active and, over the long haul, will help to rebuild the affected countries. That won’t make the pain go away, though. Counseling relief needs to be established for the survivors in something so large scale. I hope the relief effort stays on track.
    Take care.

  2. The numbers really are awful, Robert. It’s hard to imagine what it must be like in any of the affected countries now. You see the TV images of total devastation everywhere.
    Rebuilding these places (and people’s lives) will take years.

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