Tsunami terror

JUST weeks after Haiti was flattened, the world finds itself confronting another natural disaster – a massive earthquake that devastated parts of Chile and unleashed a tsunami that raced halfway round the world, forcing millions of people to flee their homes for higher ground.

Yet, remarkably, the number of casualties appear to be mercifully small, given the magnitude of the earthquake and the number of people who were living within the vicinity of the epicentre. Of course, this is no comfort to those grieving loved ones and those families made homeless, but the tragedy could have been on a far greater scale.

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What this shows, however, is the effectiveness of early warning systems. Though not deployed in Japan for more than 15 years, their activation allowed families in the path of the sea surge to move to safety – an escape to freedom denied to so many when Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia were submerged by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.

Though the world is powerless to stop natural phenomenon, it can take steps to mitigate the

impact of natural disasters – a point that needs remembering as Chile prepares to rebuild the stricken areas, and as global leaders ponder how to help Haiti, one of the world's poorest countries, emerge from the rubble.