Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A dismal December

December is turning out to be a month of disasters in Southeast Asia. Two years ago today, the Asian Tsunami claimed the lives of 130,000 people across a huge swat of Asia, stretching from the Maldives in the Indian Ocean to Sri Lanka beside the Indian Continent right up to Penang Island on the western coast of the Malay Peninsula. The hardest hit was Aceh in Indonesia, which was nearest the epicentre of the undersea earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter Scale.

Two years hence, CNA reported on 24th December 2006 that at least 60 lives were lost due to the devastating floods caused by heavy rainfall in the Aceh Tamiyang district in Indonesia. Will there be no respite for this ravaged land?

On a smaller scale this December, Malaysia again suffered, though this time farther south of Penang. Flood waters caused by the heaviest rainfall in a century took the lives of at least 4 people in Peninsula Malaysia. Almost 90,000 people lost their homes mainly in the southern parts of the country.

Earlier in the month, Typhoon Durian wreaked havoc in the Philippines, killing at least 400 people with almost the same number reportedly missing. About 66,000 people became homeless due to the destruction caused by this typhoon.

Though no one lost their lives in Singapore, the flood waters caused by incessant rainfall over several days led to significant damage to property and businesses primarily located in the centre of the island. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was away from Singapore most of this time and never experienced any of the inconveniences that it reportedly caused had I been commuting to work. You see, one of the places I pass through to work is Lornie Road beside MacRitchie Reservoir. It seems that my holiday and travelling plans of the past week or more have unwittingly saved me all the inconvenience.

Nevertheless, at this moment, beside remembering those that lost their lives in the tsunami 2 years ago, it is also opportune to remember those who lost lives and homes in the Philippines, West Malaysia and again in Indonesia this December.

Somehow, remembering the loss that businesses sustained in Singapore seem not to be in the same 'league' as lost lives, but as someone has pointed out, this is Singapore's mini-tsunami of sorts.

While we hope that it never happens again, who can stop the forces of nature?

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