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Readers react to Asia's deadly tsunami

Aerial photo shows flattened houses near the coast of Banda Aceh, Indonesia
An aerial photo shows flattened houses near the coast of Banda Aceh January 5, 2005.
Pool / Reuters
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Here are some of our readers thoughts on Asia's deadly tsunami:

My son and his fiance were vacationing in India, backpacking from place to place.  He was emailing me daily until the Tsunami hit.  I did not hear from him for 3 days, but I kept a positive attitude, refusing to fear the worst.  What a great relief it was when I received a quick e-mail from John saying they were OK, that they had been on the opposite side of the country when the tsunami hit.  I have seen online photos of the destruction and realize that we have been given whitewashed scenes through the media of the death and destruction that was wrought by the tsunami. It has changed my outlook towards life, strangers, loved ones.  How fortunate I am to have my beloved son still with me, and my heart goes out to all those tho lost their lives or their loved ones. —Rebecca Jewell, Lexington, KY,

What a shock it was to turn on the TV and see devastation and loss on the screen. My heart goes out to all those people who have lost so much in a matter of seconds. Seeing the moms and dads hold their babies hands as the little ones lay dead or injured, brought tears to my eyes and made me evaluate my own life and appreciate everything that life gives me. I have a 2 1/2 year old son and everyday I look into his beatiful blue eyes and thank God that I have been given a gift to be his Mom. After realizing the need over there in Asia, I have decided to join the Red Cross after I finish college.  —Stephanie Oakley, Ishpeming, MI

There has been one positive effect as a result of the deepest sadness most of us have ever seen to come out of the debris— the unification of countries from all over the globe.  Everyone seems to have temporarily put their differences aside to raise the needs of others above our own, to aid the victims afflicted that needed help. We all reached out. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost love ones or have been affected by this mind-boggling event, you are not alone, we are all bewildered. —Keith Ryan, New Haven

Kirinda Beach is a sleepy fishing village on the southern eastern tip of Sri Lanka, bordering Yala Safari Park. The fishing harbor was completely washed away, as was most of the village. 

However, the New Yacht Club at Paradise Cove Beach survived. 

Mr. Edirimana, the manager, said the clubhouse took a big beating.   "There is a big ship sitting upright next to our property" brought in by the wave,” he said.

No tsunami can apparently stop the New Yacht Club; the hotel is scheduled to open next month.  —James Peiris, Colombo, Sri Lanka

My family and I were between Kata and Karon beaches on Phuket at the Peach Hill Hotel the morning of Dec. 26. We were busy packing because the pick-up van was arriving at 1:00 p.m.  My sister-in-law said she had felt an earthquake in the early morning, but no one believed her. Around 9:30 a.m., we heard commotion and saw people watching the water gush towards the hotel below.

My daughter and I ran down a hill from the hotel, reaching a swirling lagoon that had swelled to a giant, frothing lake full of debris. I saw a human hand protruding from that water, moving. So, I jumped in.  With the help of two Thais, we pulled a lady out. She was breathing.

A Swede, some Thais and I then headed down towards the beach. People crossed the filthy torrent, coming off the beach. But they were cut up and muddy.

Two Scuba divers clung high in the tree branches. Several more waves came in and we rushed up the hill.

Later that day I saw several dead tourists covered with tarps, another in a Thai police truck. We were lucky. As always, we never know when happenstance could swing our way or not. We had been on the beach just 15 hours before the tsunami.  —Richard Steele, Minburi, Thailand

My son and his friends have lived in Phuket for several years. He was on his way to the Gulf of Mexico on a work assignment when the tsunami hit the island. He and his friends have worked for diving companies throughout Asia for at least 6 years.

Trying to get through to his telephone at his house was very difficult. I thought that his house might be washed away because they live less then two blocks away from the beach. After two hours, his girlfriend finally answered the phone.  It was such a relief and joy to hear her voice. They were very fortunate: the tsunami hit the other side of the island.

I am very thankful that my son, friends and others in Phuket were unharmed.
Patricia Perswich, St. Cloud, Minn.

I have just learned that yes, even I sitting here in Portland Oregon have been affected by this tragedy. The most alive, fearlessly curious person I know is among the missing. I had no idea that she was even in Thailand. Having lost her grandfather last year, a man of such admirable ethics,  I can only imagine that she is somewhere with him. I can only cry and hope that this world is still in posession of her beautiful zest for life. Thinking of you Nicole and Shalom.
—Melanie, Portland, Ore.

My brother was killed 9/11 along with 342 of his brother firefighters. As horrific as the attacks were, there is no comparing these two events. September 11 offered a clear picture of man's inhumanity towards man; the tsunami offered a clearer picture of the force of nature.

Most people don't realize that tsunamis occur just about every day. Most are small and we don't notice the 3 or 4 foot waves. The United States has its share of tsunamis on all coasts.  Nothing close to the one in SE Asia, but it is just a matter of time.

The devastation and loss of life, currently estimated at 150,000, is astounding. Once again, the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. —Charisse Henry, New York, N.Y.

This disaster made me take a good look at my life and made me realize all that I have. I just try to imagine losing my family, livelihood... in a blink of an eye... it makes me appreciate what I have even more and that the ''things'' that I have. This disaster brought me and my family closer to each other— I will never be the same again.

Let's all take care of each other and help one another. I think with love & respect we could change our beautiful world.   —Mariette Mercier, Gatineau, Quebec

I am proud of the generosity of the countries, families, and brave people who are helping in this world crisis. This devastation, designed by nature, is just proof that we are ever so fragile. We must stand side by side, and shed our hatred, prejudices, historical differences, and unite in solidarity! The magnitude of loss is enormous. A geophysist in Italy has even claimed that this quake vibrated the whole planet, even changing its very axis of rotation in our solar system! So what do we do? Keep fighting in wars and fighting each other? We need to help each other, love one another and work with and respect the ever tempermental mother nature. Peace and love to those who've suffered losses that I cannot even begin to digest. —Yasmin Zaman, Kuwait

Having spent my youth travelling across India the recent events have horrified me and saddened me to a great extent. I see all those beautiful places turned into living hell, I see  despair and fear in the faces of the people. Tsunami - it seems such a lovely word but it's definition is so ugly. These countries need us now but somewhere deep down I feel that their need has been ignored for too long. The eyes of the hungry children have been appealing to us for years, the desperate mothers have been trying to tell us for decades - NOW WILL WE LISTEN ?  — Trudi, Ste Foy la Grande, France

I am an 11yr. old sixth grader and have watched and read about the Tsunami. Everyday we study, so that we know how to react if that disaster is hurled at us. I think about the people of India and what they must be going through emotionally and physically. I feel like a spoiled brat compared to those people. My family has donated a lot of money toward the Tsunami victims. I really hope it counts. How different I now look upon natural disasters. I used to look at textbooks without knowing how in a matter of seconds you and your family can get in a sticky situation. I really hope everyone can pull together and help clean up India and all the other islands the Tsunami got a hold of.   — Emma, Sonoma, Calif.

I am an Indonesian. And these last few days, in my sadness, I feel a glimpse of happiness in knowing that all the people in the world seems united to lend hand to all the victims. The tsunami is a call for the people in the world to put behind all the controversy and hatred. Thank you for all the people who care. —Rosa S., Indonesia

Our son, Jared Price, left South Bend, IN on Friday, Dec. 31 for Sri Lanka.  He traveled with three other doctors from St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend.  They arrived in Colombo and spent the day at an orphanage.  Then they traveled on a bus to Amparai.  They have set up a mini clinic somewhere on the coast near Amparai to care for people who can't get to hospitals.  It seems sad to me that some journalists can travel by helicopter while the doctors who are there to help the people have to travel by bus. —Anonymous


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