The death toll has gone from 23,000 to 68,000 and is still rising. I was hoping the early estimates would be like those on September 11, which reduced from up to 50,000 dead to just 3,000 in the end. Instead these get worse every day.
I was in Phuket just over a year ago, and it was gorgeous. We were out on a super yacht off the coast for a few days, and it couldn’t have been better, However I doubt even the yacht we were on would have survived a 33 foot wave. Just a couple of years earlier I was also in the part of Sri Lanka that got hit hardest, so for me this isn’t some distant lands destroyed, but very real.
The earthquake which set this off was a magnitude 9.0 which is huge. In fact it seems the quake has permanently moved tectonic plates by as much as 98 feet, and also shifted islands near Sumatra. A magnitude 9.0 quake is 32 times more powerful as an 8.0 and 1000 times more powerful than a 7.0. This quake produced more energy than is consumed in the United States in one month.
Wikipedia has an exellent constantly updated article on the disaster, for those who like all the facts.
Remember you can donate $20 by ringing 0900 31 100.
Sadly some people still place politics above saving lives. Silent Running has the story of how The Vatican newspaper has “denounced a decision by the Israeli army to deny emergency help to disaster victims in Sri Lanka” yet the real story is that an Israeli plane carrying 80 tons of food and medical supplies worth $100,000 was set to depart for Sri Lanka but at the request of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry, a team of some 150 Israeli medical and security personnel aborted their planned trip. The Vatican should be ashamed for getting it so wrong.
UPDATE: A moving first hand account at Fighting Talk. Very lucky indeed.