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Tsunami: Magnitude of Terror. Relief Efforts . Contents. Emergency Relief Rehabilitation Reconstruction Case Study: Relief Efforts in Singapore Case Study: Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) . Relief Efforts . Emergency Relief. Search and Rescue .

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Tsunami: Magnitude of Terror

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Tsunami: Magnitude of Terror

Relief Efforts


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Contents

  • Emergency Relief

  • Rehabilitation

  • Reconstruction

  • Case Study: Relief Efforts in Singapore

  • Case Study: Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)


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Relief Efforts

Emergency Relief


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Search and Rescue

  • Many countries were quick to respond to the disaster. Some countries sent military and medical personnel to affected areas. Others provided military equipment to facilitate the search and rescue operations.

  • The tsunami brought about the devastation of transport and communication infrastructure. Roads were destroyed, blocking off access via land to some affected areas. Thus, aerial and sea military transports were required to reach some rural areas.

  • The force of the tsunami has altered the landscape of coastal areas, rendering most conventional topological maps useless. Therefore, ships with radar capabilities play supporting roles by coordinating the operations, and carrying out surveillance work.


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Identification of bodies

Techniques of preservation and identification

  • Thousands of corpses of victims are stacked in temporary morgues converted from Buddhist temples across southern Thailand.

  • Some are kept in refrigerated containers, others are buried near the temples in rows of shallow graves.

  • However, many bodies were already in various stages of decomposition before they were found.

  • In addition, Thailand's hot and humid climate accelerated the rate of decomposition, complicating efforts to identify them.

  • Facial recognition of bodies is almost impossible, as bodies are bloated.

  • Therefore, experts are relying on modern methods to identify victims. Forensic scientists rely on dental records to identify Westerners, who generally have dental records since childhood.

  • For locals and other Asians, DNA must be used, as fingerprints have dissolved, rendering fingerprint records totally useless.


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Searching for missing loved ones

  • The first stop for people in search of their loved ones is a gallery of photographs displayed on bulletin boards at the temporary morgues.

  • Families scrutinize pictures for distinctive scars, jewellery or facial features, hoping to find the bodies of their loved ones.

  • Although the pictures were taken as soon as the bodies were found, most bodies were already beyond recognition, and covered in dirt, mud and debris.

  • If the search is without success, they move on to a search coordination centre where they supply information of dead family members, such as records of surgeries


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Problems

  • Thai authorities have decided that every corpse has to be DNA tested, so that there is no mistake in identification.

  • That means that even people who can provide evidence such as prominent features have to wait for the test results, before they can claim the bodies of their deceased family.

  • Moreover, the quality of DNA degenerates over time, and some entire families may have been wiped out, such that their kin may not have DNA which is representative of the families' genetic traits.

  • Sadly, some bodies may never be recovered, as they have been washed into the open sea.


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Medical Aid

  • Singapore has established a medical camp at the Secata military camp outside Banda Aceh, which primary objectives include providing outpatient treatment and on-the-spot surgeries.

  • The medical team, which comprises of 6 doctors and 6 nurses from private hospitals, and 6 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel, serves between 100 and 120 patients a day.

  • In addition, the camp serves as a temporary shelter to approximately 3000 tsunami survivors.


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Provision of Food & Drinking Water

  • In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, fresh water became a scarce commodity across the region, as reservoirs and other water sources were damaged or contaminated by ocean water, and decomposing bodies.

  • Experts estimate that this could lead to the widespread occurrence of water borne diseases such as cholera, which could cause up to twice as many deaths as the direct impact of the tsunami.

  • This was carried out in a series of efforts. Firstly, medical workers have to locate water sources that are uncontaminated, and protect them from contamination by building cement walls, protective fencing and drainage systems.

  • Next, the people have to be educated on the various water purification techniques. For example, chlorination, or the addition of water purification tablets.


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Provision of Food & Drinking Water

  • Potable water is transported to affected areas, to meet the demand. Water purification systems have been set up at affected areas, to ensure a constant supply of clean water.

  • There was also an acute shortage of food, as a result of the tsunami.

  • Farmlands and rice paddies have been inundated with salty seawater, and it could be years before the soil can again sustain crops.

  • An estimated 53% of all of the protein in the dietary intake of Indonesians come from fish.

  • The destruction of the eco-system meant the lost of habitats and a decrease in the number of fishes.

  • Thus, the lost of the 2 main sources of food ensured its scarcity.

  • However, due to spontaneous international relief aid, almost 12,500 tons of food was delivered to Banda Aceh, effectively alleviating the situation.


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Relief Efforts

Rehabilitation


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Volunteer Work

  • Volunteers can provide help to the tsunami victims in many different ways. Some help in the orderly distribution of food, clothes, drinking water and medicine and other basic necessities.

  • Some help clean up the debris and search for the missing. While others bury or cremate the dead, treat the injured in medical camps and relief centers or provide emotional support to those who have lost family in the tragedy.

  • It is estimated that there are 4 persons injured for every person dead. Thus, medical staff is required to provide health care, such as treatment of injury, and vaccination against cholera and other water-borne diseases.


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Volunteer Work

  • In Thailand, local youth who are able to speak a foreign language are volunteering their abilities to help foreigners who are desperately looking for missing family members.

  • While groups of people from the online community have made use of their technological expertise to set up websites which promotes relief aid, or regarding missing persons.

  • For the rest of us, according to experts, giving money is the most practical and effective assistance one can give.

  • It is not practical to donate food as the cost to transport the food may outweigh the cost of the food itself. Food supplies are also readily available locally.


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Housing

  • In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, houses were swept away, and millions of survivors were made homeless.

  • Tents and tarpaulins are good temporary shelters, but something more substantial is needed, as reconstruction may take several years.

  • The absence of permanent shelter increases the likelihood of insect bites exposure to other parasitic diseases.

  • There are other inexpensive alternatives such as the Global Village Shelter, a flat-pack hut made from water and fire resistant cardboard-type material.

  • It takes approximately 20 minutes to assemble, and costs about US$400, about 5 times the cost of a tent.


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Housing

  • World Vision India is supplying the materials and the labourers to construct temporary housing for 7,000 families made homeless by the tsunami in two districts south of Chennai.

  • Each new house is a 10 x 12 foot, temporary shelter of fibre-cement board attached to a frame of wooden poles.

  • In the fishing village of Sonankuppam, workers are putting up 25 temporary houses a day.

  • As they work, bulldozers clear aside the debris of the hundreds of thatch and brick homes demolished by the tsunami.

  • Locals are employed in the reconstruction, helping to kick start economic activity.


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Education

  • Many children have lost the chance to attend school, as the tsunami has destroyed school buildings.

  • For some, the chaotic situation simply disallows the privilege of an education.

  • Restarting the education system gets children back into a daily routine and helps them cope with the trauma.

  • Moreover, it offers them a way escape from the vicious cycle of poverty.

  • Once tents or temporary structures had been set up for children, the next stage was making sure that they were engaged in activities beneficial for their mental and psychological well being.

  • However, exercise books, textbooks and equipment had all been destroyed.


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Relief Efforts

Reconstruction


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Tourism

Importance of Tourism Sector

  • Most of the areas worst hit by the tsunami depend on tourism to support its economy.

  • Among them, Maldives is most badly affected.

  • Tourism contributes to as much as 72.1% of the country's GDP.

  • An estimated 64.4% of the population's livelihood depends on tourism and related industries.

  • Tourism also contributes significantly to the economies of other affected nations such as Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.


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Tourism

Phuket Action Plan

  • Countries hit by the tsunami are appealing to the international community to help in the reconstruction process by booking a holiday to the region.

  • The WTO has said tourism was the best form of aid the international community could give to affected areas.

  • During the talks held by the WTO on 1st February in Phuket, tourism experts have drafted a plan, which aims to draw the tourist back to the tsunami stricken areas.

  • The agreement is named the "Phuket Action Plan", and includes a comprehensive series of activities, which focuses on saving jobs in the tourism industry, re-launching tourism-related businesses, and increasing visitor numbers.


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Tourism

Phuket Action Plan

  • Participants in the meeting appealed to the international community to support the implementation of the Plan through financial aid, contribution of materials, or the loan of expert staff.

  • 14 countries have pledged assistance for the plan. International organizations such as the International Finance Corporation and the United Nations Development Programme have also promised support.


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Tourism

Quick Recovery Expected

  • Only the coastal areas were badly hit by the waves, and 70% of the tourist areas are intact.

  • However, the tourism sector is suffering.

  • In Maldives, hotel bookings are 50% that of pre-disaster periods, even though only 3 tourists were killed in the disaster.

  • Hotel rooms in Thailand, which suffered the largest number of tourist deaths, have an occupancy rate of only 20%.

  • Travel to affected areas in Thailand is down by a third.

  • Still, experts are optimistic of a quick recovery.

  • Bali took only a year to recover from the nightclub bombing in 2002.

  • Tourism in Asia was back in full force after the SARS outbreak in 2003.


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Fishing Industry

Importance of Rebuilding Fishing Industry

  • The fishing industry is an important aspect of the economies of affected nations. In any disaster, the poorest of society have always been affected most.

    Problems Faced

  • As the tsunami hit the coast, many fishing boats and equipment including boats and fishing gear have been swept away or damaged.

  • Most of the people whose livelihoods depend on fishing have no insurance to recover their loss of equipments.

  • Moreover, the rumors that it is dangerous to eat fish that have been in proximity to or have fed on victims' bodies has dealt a further blow to the industry, and reports suggest that fish consumption is dropping as a result.

  • However, experts agree that such worries are unfounded, and there was no evidence of an increased risk of fish or seafood borne diseases in the affected regions.


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Fishing Industry

Measures to rebuild Fishing Industry

  • The European commission has adopted a decision to provide immediate and long-term technical expertise and assistance to the countries concerned.

  • They will also assist in the implementation of the agreed rehabilitation measures in this sector.

  • European vessels destined to be scrapped because of overfishing would be sent to affected areas.

  • The EC and UN's Food and Agriculture Organization will meet on March 12 to discuss ways to overcome the legal barriers in the transfer of fishing vessels.


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Fishing Industry

Measures to rebuild Fishing Industry

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the German technical cooperation agency, has provided boat repair kits worth US$380,000 to help restore the livelihoods of Sri Lankan fishermen.

  • The repair kits will be made available at boatyards set up around the country by the Sri Lankan government to repair those vessels salvaged by the surviving fishermen.

  • Furthermore, FAO will provide fishing nets and gear, as well as outboard engines and will repair damaged boats or replace those lost with new ones.


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Agriculture

  • As there were human casualties, undoubtedly, domestic farm animals reared for commercial purposes were not spared.

  • In affected areas, such livestock was vital in its contribution to the economic livelihoods of the people.

  • Some means of solving this includes restocking, with the replacement of animals from other villages or regions less affected.

  • Moreover, proper sanitary conditions have to be established, not just for the health of human, but for that of the livestock as well.

  • The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) will prepare appropriate guidelines, checklists and specifications for rehabilitating household livestock enterprises.

  • The findings would then be made available to the relief organizations, so that they are able to effectively meet the differing specific needs of various affected areas.


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Agriculture

  • The plains were flooded by the saline sea water, and many acres of crops was laid waste.

  • Even as the water had evaporated, the problem persisted, as the salt remained.

  • The salt dissolved in ground water, decreasing its water potential, and restricting the uptake of water from the soil water.

  • The tsunami also caused soil erosion, as the fertile topsoil is washed away.

  • To begin the reconstruction of the agricultural sector, Equipment and other agriculture inputs such as chemical fertilizers would have to be made available to affected areas.

  • Infrastructure such as roads has to be re-established.

  • Furthermore, agriculture requires a constant supply of fresh water.

  • Thus, water sources with a supply of fresh water would have to be located, storage and irrigation facilities would have to be built.


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Donations

  • The international community was spontaneous in the effort to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to affected nations.

  • The World Bank estimates the total amount of aid required to be US$5 Billion.

  • As of 8th February 2005, the total amount pledged by governments, International aid organisations, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and private individuals has already exceeded this amount, and stands at US$5.5 Billion.

  • Of this amount, donations of governments from 87 countries make up US$5.1 Billion.

  • Private persons and institutions have contributed the balance of US$ 393 Million.


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Relief Efforts

Case Study: Relief Efforts in Singapore


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Case Study: Relief Efforts in Singapore

  • Volunteers can help by coordinating the relief efforts locally.

  • For example, many local volunteers are required for the packing of relief kits and other non-monetary relief aid.

  • Typical relief kits consist of cups, plates, cutlery, buckets, bowls, bed sheets, soap, clothes and sleeping mats.

  • Furthermore, some people are over enthusiastic to provide help to the victims and yet are ill informed of the local situation, thus resulting in the donation of impractical items.

  • For example, too revealing clothes are unsuitable for the generally conservative Asian society.

  • Certain food products may spoil even before it reaches its destination.


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Case Study: Relief Efforts in Singapore

  • Yet there are others who are not directly involved in the relief effort or do not have the financial capability to make a significant impact, and yet do their part for the victims of the tsunami.

  • For example, students and members of the public have took to the streets for collection of donations. This activity has been encouraged by instituitions all over Singapore.

  • The Singapore government has pledged SGD 5m to relief efforts initially, including SGD 1m to the Singapore Red Cross Society.

  • As of January 8, SRCS has collected more than SGD 27m in donations from the public.

  • At the recent emergency disaster summit in Jakarta, the government has pledged an additional USD 10m to help victims of the tsunami disaster.

  • In addition, Temasek Holdings, a government linked investment corporation, has set aside USD 10m for relief work.


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Case Study: Relief Efforts in Singapore

  • The government has also offered the use of its air and naval bases as a staging area to the United Nations and other relief agencies.

  • The United Nations has also accepted Singapore's offer to set up a UN Regional Coordination Centre to coordinate relief efforts in affected areas.

  • Singapore has also offered to rebuild hospitals and clinics in Aceh.

  • The Singaporean humanitarian relief operation involves more than 1200 military and civil defence personnel.

  • The humanitarian assistance provided by its military, medical and rescue teams is estimated to cost SGD 20m.


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Relief Efforts

Case Study: Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)


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Accomplishments

  • They created land and air bridges by building two beach landing points and seven helicopter landing sites in Meulaboh.

  • The SAF field hospitals in Meulaboh and Banda Aceh cured 5174 patients

  • 190,000kg of relief supplies was ferried by Landing Ship Tanks.

  • RSAF Chinook and Super Puma helicopters flew 143 missions, ferried 150,000kg of relief supplies and carried 2,500 passengers.

  • C-130 and Fokker-50 aircraft flew 76 missions, ferried 240,000kg of relief loads and carried 1,200 passengers.

  • The engineers built a modular building, approximately 139 square metre and two logistics storage areas.

  • The SAF set up a mobile air traffic control tower and air traffic control support.

  • About 70 personnel would continue assistance with the presence of two liaison teams and three Chinooks


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Experiences

  • The Navy managed to obtain the only and special hand-traced sea chart of the Meulaboh area in western Sumatra, which was critical for navigation in the unfamiliar waters of Meulaboh.

  • This could only be done due to the close relationship developed over the years between the SAF and the Tentera Nasional Indonesia (TNI).

  • The SAF commanders were familiar with the key Indonesian military personnel running the emergency relief work in Aceh and they spoke their language and knew how to relate to the Acehnese, unlike many other foreign troops.

  • Hence the TNI officers were comfortable with the presence of the SAF officers and were impressed with the SAF's low profile and the sincerity of its assistance.

  • The SAF were surprised by the resilient and the will to live of the Indonesian people, although exhausted, they still continued to work tirelessly to clear debris and remove bodies.


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Conclusions

  • The SAF realized that careful and forward planning and well thought-out strategies and policies were important.

  • Team work also played an important role. This shows the close integration between army, navy and air force.

  • The SAF are professional and flexible when faced with difficult circumstances.

  • They found the best way to get ashore, to bring equipment in, to fly helicopters to places unknown, and to locate places to land.

  • The field engineers found sea landing sites as well as clear and create new landing sites for heavy helicopters.

  • The success of Singapore's biggest-ever tsunami deployment has boosted the public's confidence and pride in the SAF.

  • The mission has given the SAF more belief in their system, in the way they do things, in the way they train and in the way the leaders lead their comrades.


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References


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References

  • "OPERATION FLYING EAGLE - The inside story of the SAF's tsunami relief deployment" . "AsiaOne News Link" . [Online] http://nnewslink.asia1.com.sg/brsweb/read_1.brsw?this=result&QDT=1&QFLST=HD%3AHG%3APD&DB=ST%4004-05&QSTR=%28%28Operation+Flying+Eagle+inside+story+%29%29.HD.&DTSTR=%28%28PD+%3E=+20041012%29+and+%28PD+%3C=+20050314%29%29&PSZ=30&MAXL=400&SUMY=2&HLT=1&LSTN=0&[email protected] [14 March 2005]

  • "Setting up a lifeline to Aceh" . "Straits Times Interactive" . [Online] http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/sub/news/story/0,5562,301708,00.html? [20 February 2005]

  • "Mission Accomplised" . "Straits Times Interactive" . [Online] http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/sub/news/story/0,5562,302893,00.html? [27 February 2005]


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