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Magnitude of loss in Tsunami

by Bill Osler / January 1, 2005 7:57 AM PST

I haven't posted much, if anything, about the Tsunami because my brain sometimes does not work very quickly. It is hard for me to imagine the magnitude of the loss of life from the Tsunami. Sometimes when I'm confronted with this kind of thing I play with numbers to see if it helps make things a bit more comprehensible. Of course, there is no way human lives can be reduced to mere numbers. But that is another discussion. In this case, though, the numbers are staggering.

I made a table that shows population loss by country, as quoted at Country-By-Country Breakdown of Tsunami

For comparison, I used current world population by country from mnsu emuseum

Finally, as a reference, I used information from the CDC about deaths due to the 9/11 attacks.

The results: (I cannot make them format properly in the post so I just put in the final numbers)

Indonesia 0.033%
Sri Lanka 0.142%
India 0.001%
Thailand 0.007%
Somalia 0.002%
World 0.002%

USA 9/11 0.001%

The conclusion: The world as a whole lost about twice as many lives from the Tsunami (proportionally speaking) as the US did from the 9/11 attack. When you consider how many of us were affected by the losses on 9/11, that makes this appear even more mind boggling. The devastation in some of the countries was far worse. In Sri Lanka, current death figures show over 1 person out of every 1000 in that country was killed in the Tsunami. A proportionately similar loss in the US (with its larger population) would take about 400,000 lives.

I'm having a hard time grasping just how enormous the losses from the tsunami were.

BTW: for those so inclined: A lot of well established, reputable organizations are involved in relief work in that area. Many of those organizations can accept donations at their web sites. Amazon has been allowing contributions to the Red Cross from the store's web site. Oxfam has work going on in several of those countries, as can be seen at the Oxfam America web site. The list goes on.

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its a sad happing
by Mark5019 / January 1, 2005 8:02 AM PST

the loss of life and every things gone i think that it will get worse before it gets better.

i just hope that the help gets there soon

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I've been watching this nearly non-stop
by TONI H / January 1, 2005 8:12 AM PST

and it gets worse every day with the devastation...I sit here sometimes absolutely numb trying to fathom this loss that just keeps growing......


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"watching this nearly non-stop"
by drpruner / January 1, 2005 3:21 PM PST

Not a good idea. (Seriously.)

Regards, Doug in New Mexico

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Slight nit pick
by EdH / January 1, 2005 9:59 AM PST

Is that World figure correct? It seems high considering China wasn't involved and the number for India is not higher. Maybe off by a zero?

I'm not a math whiz so I could be wrong.

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I think the world figure is correct ....
by Bill Osler / January 1, 2005 10:57 AM PST
In reply to: Slight nit pick

It is based on:
Total Deaths from the tsunami: 123,184
World Population: 6,518,447,341
Deaths as proportion of world population: 0.0019% (IOW, about 1 in 50,000 of the world's population died)

By comparison, the total for 9/11 was ~0.0009% of the US population. The numbers I posted were obviously rounded.

As you noted, even from a proportional perspective, the death rate is huge.

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(NT) (NT) OK
by EdH / January 1, 2005 11:06 AM PST
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someone on the radio here mentioned
by jonah jones / January 1, 2005 3:05 PM PST

that to grasp the magnitude of Sri Lankas loss, multiply the loss of life in the WTC horror by 10...

USA 220,000,000/3K = Sri Lanka 22,000,000/30k



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Bill; Jonah:
by drpruner / January 1, 2005 3:19 PM PST

Good research; we all try to get a handle on the mess.

I keep remembering the woman who lost 11 children, wailing, 'Why me?'

Regards, Doug in New Mexico

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