Disaster in Asia

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

Suffolkians, like other around the world, are horrified as a disaster of biblical proportions – perhaps the worst in history – unfolds before our eyes.

At the time of this writing, the death count from the tsunamis that struck Asian coastlines Sunday stood at close to 77,000. It will likely be much higher by the time this newspaper reaches your hands. According to UNICEF, fully a third of those dead are children, too weak to hang on to something to keep from being washed to sea.

Entire communities have been washed away. Watching desperate parents search morgues for children, or carry dead children around in their arms is too much for many to bear.

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And it’s nowhere near being over.

Decomposing corpses are likely to spawn outbreaks of deadly cholera and standing water will serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying malaria. The death toll could double because of disease.

Many in Suffolk are wondering how they can help. Currently, it looks like the International Red Cross Response Fund is the best outlet. A spokesman for the Suffolk chapter said financial contributions will go directly to the stricken areas.

The fund will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish).

Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter (P. O. Box 129, Suffolk, Va. 23439-0129) or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

If any churches or civic organizations are organizing relief efforts, please let us know by calling managing editor Luefras Robinson at 934-9613, or emailing the information to luefras.robinson@suffolknewsherald.com so we can help publicize it.

For those unable to donate, please remember the victims in your prayers.