Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Note from Sri Lanka

This is most of the text of an e-mail I got from a friend here at work who was in Sri Lanka visiting his family when the Tsunami hit:

Thanks for your concern. My family and I are doing OK - we were not
seriously affected by the tragedy. A lot of friends known to us were not so
lucky. Even though my parents live close to the coast, they live about 2
miles from the sea and we were not impacted.

No amount of adjectives or superlatives are adequate to describe the
extent of the damage. Even the television lense does not do justice to the
enormity of it. Given that dead bodies have been in sea water longer than
24 hours, they are heavily decomposed and have become a major health hazard.
Hospital mortuaries are simply not equiped to handle the dead bodies.
Given the health hazards involved, mass burials and cremations are now
happening in several districts. However, they continue to find bodies in
places that were not accessible till now.

It so happens that the major highway that runs to the South of the
country hugs the coastline. It is an extremely scenic route but given that
it runs so close to the coast, it has made relief operations extremely
difficult. That particular road is unpassable for vehicular traffic in
certain areas. That has been the most significant impediment towards moving
to certain areas. One particular train was blown away from the railway
tracks and carried away. Almost 1,200 people in the train were killed. It
was only yesterday that relief workers were able to get to that place to get
the dead bodies.

My friends and I have been collecting items to distribute to the people
affected. I live close to an Air Force base that has become a central point
in the relief effort to areas that are still not accessible by land. They
continuously ferry relief supplies to the affected areas and bring back dead
bodies of tourists and other identified bodies. It is still somewhat
chaotic since the sheer volume of the tragedy has overwhlemed logistical
lines. We have delivered items to this base several times and will take a
bigger convoy of relief items by land tomorrow to several impacted

If there is anyone that can help the relief effort, I would like to
encourage them to do so. I can provide some relief agencies in the US that
will collect and send them here. Anything that is provided will be
valuable. Even a small donation in US Dollars go a long way when converted
to the local currency here and will help the people to get back on their

Thanks for your concern - please encourage anyone who is willing to
contribute to help us out in this time of great need.


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