October 22nd, 2005

Edge of the world

The massive scale of the Pakistani earthquake.

I must say that I am absolutely amazed at how little attention the horrific earthquake that occurred in Pakistan a couple of weeks ago is receiving. It seems to be lost amidst the tidal wave of equally sad news: hurricanes, terrorism, Iraq, bird flu, et cetera. The thing is, the scale of destruction from the earthquake is on a massive scale, and worse still, it has devastated swathes of land that are difficult to access at the best of times. In some of the most isolated places, the deceased may turn out to be the lucky ones, with many people facing the very real prospect of a Himalayan winter without shelter. The carnage is immense, and yet, after all the calamities of the last twelve months, I fear this is just going to be overlooked in a general exhaustion towards disasters.

It's just horrific to realise that the two biggest disasters of the last twelve months - the tsunami and this quake - have both ravaged Asia, with India struck by both. The regions hit don't have the infrastructure, healthcare, or response systems present in the first world, and even if this quake had occurred somewhere like the USA or Australia, it would be one almighty problem to tackle. Aid is desperately needed in the affected areas, but the BBC quotes UN emergency relief chief Jan Egeland as saying "[the current level of aid] is not enough. We have never had this kind of logistical nightmare ever. We thought the tsunami was the worst we could get. This is worse" (emphasis mine).

All I can do is sit back in a state of shock and wonder. What can you possibly say to an earthquake that has caused the deaths of more than fifty thousand people? I'm sure the typical cycle of some people blaming God and others praising God will begin soon and this tragedy will be used as an another excuse for animosity and tension. Considering the damage nature can cause, people really should stop adding to the sorrow of the human race and put aside their violent tendencies and learn to overcome differences peacefully and in a friendly manner. It's disasters like this - something completely unpredictable wiping out thousands of people - that make you realise how fragile life is. We shouldn't waste it on hate.