Staggering number of Aceh kids killed by tsunami: Study

The Guardian

London, January 22:

The first comprehensive study of damage caused by the tsunami in Indonesia reveals a devastated society and a staggering number children killed and orphaned.

The study by the World Bank and Indonesian government estimates the total bill for the destruction of property and businesses at more than $4.4 billion. About 700,000 people are homeless, and farmers, fishermen and others with small businesses have lost their livelihoods and cannot rebuild because they have no income. “The scale of the damages to the local economy, infrastructure, and administration were unprecedented. In an instant, livelihoods and security of hundreds of thousands of the survivors were ruined,” the joint report says.

It concludes that only a massive international effort can rebuild the devastated areas. The biggest story of the disaster, says the report, is not the damage to the national economy, which was substantial, but the suffering of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have lost everything: members of their families, their homes, and hope of making a living. In some places the whole structure of society has changed. In Alu Naga village it was reported that all the children had died. Drawn to flapping fish on the beach as the sea receded, many were killed as the wave followed.

The report — which uses the total death figure on January 14 of 110,229 — estimates that 37 per cent of the casualties were under 18. Up to 12,160 of those who died, about 13 per cent were infants. As many as 7,722 children lost both parents and 32,735 lost one parent. Because Aceh is a conflict area the number of female- headed households was already high, at one in five. Since the disaster that number has increased significantly. About 30 per cent of those killed worked in agriculture and a further 10 per cent were fishermen.

Kobe meet ends

KOBE: The world’s nations - united in shock over the Indian Ocean tsunami — agreed on Saturday to work together to better guard against natural disasters, with steps ranging from stronger building codes to expanded monitoring of nature’s upheavals.

In a first concrete step, the World Conference on Disaster Reduction laid groundwork for the Indian Ocean’s first tsunami early warning system, expected to be in place next year. The five-day, 168-nation UN conference concluded - after dozens of workshops and a final night of closed-door negotiations - by adopting a “framework for action” to reduce disaster losses in the next 10 years. — AP