06 January 2005

South Africa offers aid to Maldives

The South African government has offered aid to the value of at least R10m to the tsunami-struck Maldives.

Although the official death toll on these islands was estimated at roughly 75, it was impossible to confirm the full extent of the damage as hardly any emergency rescue effort had taken place on the islands.

The true damage and loss of life might be far worse, but thorough scouting was necessary to determine this, said Louis Buys, chief director of disaster management at the department of provincial and local government on Wednesday.

He said Sydney Mufamadi, minister of this department, decided to send a freighter with South African helicopters and crew, as well as emergency supplies to the area "as a matter of urgency".

These aircraft were initially scheduled to leave for Indonesia, but US financing for the attempt fell through.

"The mission is the South African government's official financial contribution to the disaster aid. The Maldive government asked its South African counterpart for help as the main focus of the international community was with the community in southeastern Asia.

"Many countries - including the US, Australia and India - have sent choppers to help in southeastern Asia during these early stages of relief, but no helicopters have been made available for the Maldives up to now.

"The aircraft will assess the situation and assist with the transport of emergency supplies. Loads of emergency supplies have been delivered but cannot be transported to needy communities," he said.

Meanwhile, stacks of emergency supplies from donors in South Africa were piling up. Buys said it was vital to get these to the people needing them most.

Mike McDougall - head of helicopter operations at Naturelink, the organisation that will execute the initiative - said information from the Maldives indicated that some of the roughly 300 small islands were totally washed away.

These islands are distributed over an area of 900km. It has been calculated that up to 40% of the total area of the islands was submerged when the tidal wave struck.

"It is clear that some of the islands have been rendered uninhabitable, and some of them have disappeared completely. The highest level on the islands is a mere 6m above sea level.

"This means the tidal waves washed over everything. There is radio communication on the islands, but most of the islands were initially cut off from the outside world."

Buys said the aircraft could be rerouted to southeastern Asia if the situation in the Maldives appeared not to be that critical.

However, should there be a bigger need on the islands than expected, the freighter could even return to South Africa to fetch more supplies.


At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has been miniscule to no reporting of how the tsumnami has affected people along the east and southeast coast of Africa. It was mentioned briefly that Somalia and the horn of Africa was hit, but western news has provided no assessment of the damages and loss of life there. The western media is completely ignoring the effects of this tsunami on Africa. I pray for all the peoples affected by this disaster, but I am concerned that the people of Africa are being treated with benign neglect. It is as if they do not exist and the tsunami is a non-event that never happened to them.

I am an American citizen who had to go to the Internet blogs to find out information regarding the effects of the tsunami on Africa. Would any knowledgeable person, preferably someone living in the area or someone with accrate information. Please post some news about this subject, e.g., number of casualties,how much aid is coming from the west, extent of damages, Red Cross involvement, and soforth.


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