Tsunami nations give relief advice to U.S.

Monday, September 5, 2005

The nations hard hit by last year's devastating tsunami are now lending advice to the United States on how to cope with the Katrina crisis.

Nopadol Somboonsub, the head of tsunami corpse identification in Thailand noted that the U.S. needs to "...examine the bodies slowly and put all the data into a computer," and added that "It's very important to get it right. You cannot assume that this or that body is the right body simply because a relative identified it."

Somboonsub noted that life insurance and identity theft fraud are all matters to consider when dealing with body identification. Somboonsub speaks from a position of experience, his team having dealt with the identities of 5,395 corpses of various ethnicities in Thailand.

In India too, experts have advice for the U.S. For instance, one unnamed Indian official said that nations should not be arrogant when it comes to handling disasters. He also stated that "In India, for all its vastness, we have a very easily operable contingency plan for disasters at the grassroots level. It is not a highly complicated national response system."

He emphasized that relief is most important on the local level: "A person at the grassroots level knows that sandbags have to be organized, identifies likely places of breaches, plans clearing debris and setting up relief camps and cooking centers."

In Aceh, in Indonesia, Budi Atmadi, head of relief operations, said that humanitarian concerns must come first.

"In that period, the blame game is rampant because one person will always say the relief has been slow while another says there are so many limitations. The blame game will always be there so your ears need to be thick," Atmadi stated, along with "The important thing is to stay committed and put humanitarian concerns at the top."

The United States has so far only accepted help from other countries in the form of monetary aid and oil.