Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at 10:41 AM

Tsunami Devastates Indonesia … Again

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

No doubt you recall the earthquake that struck Indonesia in 2004, triggering a tsunami that killed over 230,000 people.

Government officials promised back then to devise a foolproof-warning system to ensure deadly tsunamis would never again wash up on so many people unawares.

Sure enough, another earthquake struck Indonesia on Friday, triggering another tsunami.

The Indonesian government has defended itself against accusations it issued inadequate safety warnings as a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami.

The 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Sulawesi island on Friday causing three-meter-high (10 foot) waves to surge over parts of its northwestern shore, with groups of people caught on the coastline, apparently unaware of the danger.

(CNN, October 2, 2018)

Frankly, only the grace of God prevented this tsunami from claiming just as many lives.

The number of people known to have died in Indonesia in Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has risen to 1,347, disaster response officials say. …

Police are guarding shops against looters as people desperately search for food, fuel and water. …

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs says there are nearly 200,000 people in urgent need of assistance, about a quarter of them children.

(BBC, October 2, 2018)

As it happens, CNN is already reporting that the death toll is bound to rise … significantly. To appreciate what this portends, recall that President Trump gave his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria last year an “A”. He based that perverse pat on the back on initial reports that only 16 people died in Puerto Rico, which took the most direct hit. But we now know that nearly 3000 people ended up dying there.

That said, I will only add this for further context:

Earthquakes and other natural disasters should always remind us that there but for the grace of God. … But there’s no denying that living in a relatively rich country increases one’s chance of surviving and recovering from such disasters tremendously. …

It’s bad enough that accident of birth can consign one to a life of chronic poverty. It just seems unfair that even the wrath of Mother Nature affects the poor so disproportionately.

(“Killer Earthquakes: First Haiti, now Chile,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 2, 2010)

Of course, the Trump administration’s salutary neglect of Puerto Ricans upended this assertion in tragic fashion. Truth be told, post Katrina, nobody thought any hurricane relief-and-recovery effort could be so haphazard and incompetent.

Meanwhile, most people in the United States seem more concerned about how much beer a supreme court nominee drank in high school 36 years ago than they are about how many people are dying from this latest tsunami today. Which makes me wonder if it’s unfortunate or fortunate timing that Anthony Bourdain is featuring the gastronomic wonders of Indonesia on this Sunday’s episode of his hit CNN series, Parts Unknown.

What is clearly unfortunate is that, as with Trump’s norm-busting antics at home, we’re becoming numb to the devastating and lasting effects of natural disasters abroad.

Nonetheless, there are myriad ways you can donate to relief and recovery efforts in Indonesia. I urge you to: Help!

Related commentaries:
historic earthquakes
Killer earthquakes

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