Abstract Musings

Documenting the random thoughts of a cluttered mind

Death Toll Continues to Rise

The death toll in Asia from the earthquake and tsunami has risen to almost 77,000 lives. The sheer mass of dead bodies is making identification difficult.

For search and rescue teams in Khao Lak – where a four-year-old fisherman’s son survived for more than two days after being swept into a tree top – the problem is not finding bodies. The smell of rotting corpses is too strong to miss.

But identifying them may take a long time and one top government forensic scientist said some may never be named.

Pornthip Rojanasunant told Reuters at a Khao Lak Buddhist temple acting as a temporary morgue for 300 bodies – about a fifth of them foreigners – that she was collecting DNA samples of all the corpses by swabbing mouths or taking hair.

The samples could be matched to relatives later, she said.

President Bush responds to his critics after America’s contribution to the disaster relief was labeled, “stingy.”

“The United States will continue to stand with the affected governments as they care for the victims. We will stand with them as they start to rebuild their communities,” he said, adding that he had spoken by phone to the leaders of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia.

“I assure those leaders that this is just only the beginning of our help,” he said.

At a briefing with reporters at an airport hangar near the ranch, Bush displayed pique at a comment by a U.N. official that rich countries had generally been “stingy” in aid to poor countries.

“I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed,” he said.

“In the year 2004, our government provided $2.4 billion in food and cash and humanitarian relief. … That’s 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the world last year,” he said.

America year after year proves to be one of the most charitable nations in both government and private aid. So far Amazon is reporting over $2 million in donations and that number continues to rise. Granted, there’s no way to know where all the donations are coming from, and I suspect a fair number of them are from outside our borders, but still it is staggering that as private citizens, we can raise over $2 million dollars. This just proves that when private citizens are free to choose where to put their money, they will choose to do the right thing with it.