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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Healing Hands

Volunteers of the leading Pakistani charity Edhi Foundation pack medicines for victims of tsunamis in Karachi. | Women light candles in Stockholm's cathedral Storkyrkan. Half a world away from the havoc of the tidal waves in Asia, Scandinavians desperate for information about loved ones gone missing while on holiday scoured the Internet for news amid reports that thousands of them may have perished. | Homeless people collect food and clothes in a refugee camp near the damaged city of Galle, south of Sri Lanka, December 30, 2004. The death toll in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster soared above 120,000 on Thursday as millions scrambled for food and fresh water and thousands more fled in panic to high ground on rumours of new waves.Ocean disaster toll hits 114,000, but with speedy mass burials and the chaotic situation the tsunami death toll may never be completely known.

At a morgue in the coastal town of Cuddalore on India's mainland, a government physician, Dr. S. Narayanswamy, announces on the public address system to waiting crowds outside: "There are four ladies and a boy of five years, or is it eight years, here. Please come and identify."

A man and a woman come in hesitatingly, look at the dead boy's face and shake their heads. They are asked to leave and the next couple walks in and erupts into wails, beating their chests and rolling on the ground. Within moments, a numbered tag is attached the body's arm and the official toll goes up by one.

What's important now is that when nature's furies subside, humanity must rise to the rescue. Hands held together make the strongest and the longest bridges, it is these which will lead us to a better future.

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