Massive FloodingHoly, holy fuck
The Thai Prime Minister isn't kidding when he says, "Nothing like this has ever happened in our country before." During college I worked as a research assistant at the always-nifty Dartmouth Flood Observatory
, tracking floods and flooding around the world—whether caused by heavy rains, earthquakes, tidal waves, whatever. Anyways, one of my jobs was to compile and categorize floods in years past by sifting through news reports, Red Cross data, etc. You get a bit inured to it after awhile, but massive disasters like this one still manage to shock and horrify.
I don't have my old spreadsheets in front of me, but as I recall, floods that killed more than a few hundred
people were fairly rare and usually considered a big, big deal. So this earthquake/tidal wave/flood combo, leaving
dead and drowned, defies words. Absolutely horrible. What's worse, the bulk of deaths often come after
the initial onslaught—especially in Southeast Asia, as flooding spreads disease through the rivers and wells. Let's hope that doesn't happen, and that aid organizations can stem the aftermath. (Now would be a great time to donate
to the Red Cross...)
Matt Yglesias has some perspective
from the other direction, linking to a page that claims 138,000 people died from a tsunami in Bangladesh in 1991. I'm almost positive that number's way too high, but it doesn't matter, it's clearly up there in the realm of the horrific. Bangladesh always gets the disaster that keeps on giving, since most of the houses there wash away easily, and the rising waters spread disease. Christ...