Though of course, that paragraph only perpetuates the petty dispute, so I'm going to change topics now and focus on two newsworthy events.
Firstly, Viktor Yushchenko has claimed victory in the re-run Ukrainian election, possessing an unassailable lead with more than 92% of voted already counted. Celebrations are already underway in Kiev, but of course, Yanukovich, the victor of the initial, fraudulent election, is considering challenging the outcome. I highly doubt he will stand any chance in the courts as the number of foreign observers in the country was huge. Now that he's overcome poisoning and fraud, the real challenge is just beginning for Yushchenko: uniting a severely divided nation. He's sure going to need the best of luck.
Secondly, as I am sure many of you already know, a devastating earthquake triggered tsunamis around the Indian Ocean - the magnitude has been revised up to a massive nine on the Richter scale and the death toll continues to spiral upwards, currently at 16,000. The quake occurred in the Indian Ocean north of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with the tremor itself most severely felt in the province of Aceh. It was then that the serious catastrophe struck - vicious tsunamis that fanned out across the ocean, wreaking havoc in as distant locations as Thailand and Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, the Maldives and Malaysia. The death toll is almost certain to be on the low side - many settlements have been cut off from contact and the destruction is so severe that even in major centres, a full toll will not be known for some time. Figures higher than fifty thousand dead have been projected, and I understand that more than a million are homeless. The worst part is watching the news footage of mosques and morgues full of tiny bodies. It's heartbreaking.
I particularly hate to think how this has affected strife-torn regions, notably Aceh in Indonesia and the Tamil-possessed regions of Sri Lanka. Apparently land mines have been dislodged and are floating in Sri Lankan streets, while Aceh has seen millions of deaths in the past decades from brutal conflict. The hardships of daily life have now been exascerbated and I hate to think how the residents are going to cope. Supplies are low, living standards are catastrophically poor, and many will die for lack of communication and access to medical facilities.
I am both surprised and concerned to note that Bangladesh has failed to rate a mention in any news reports I've seen, not even on SBS's non-stop twenty minutes of coverage. The Bay of Bengal acts as a funnel, often resulting in severe inundation of Bangladesh after typhoons. The epicentre of the quake is in part of the Indian Ocean in the Bay of Bengal, so I would have thought that some tsunamis would have raced north and caused havoc in Bangladesh. They have, after all, caused chaos in all other directions, with some waves even reaching Africa. Indeed, I just did a search online and it would appear the waves missed Bangladesh - a huge relief as it is one of the most densely populated nations in the world. However, major tremors did occur in the country, with one reported as being around 7.4 on the Richter scale - remarkably, only two deaths have been recorded thus far.
Luckily, the waves did not strike Australia with any force; only abnormal tides have been reported. The destruction that has occurred in our neighbourhood, however, is staggering. I couldn't pull myself away from the footage - it's horrific and on such a vast, international scale that you do have to wonder what the extent of the disaster will be once relief efforts fan out and communication systems are re-established. I would highly encourage all of you to do at least something for the devastated region, regardless of how small it may be. A monetary contribution to a relief fund, prayer, or the donation of blankets would all be steps in the right direction.
Meanwhile, it's storming here, so I will sign off for the night. Stay safe, folks.