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Asian disasters: When will they end?

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A resident searches for victims under a collapsed hotel in Padang on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Photo by Reuters/Crack Palinggi, courtesy of www.alertnet.org
A resident searches for victims under a collapsed hotel in Padang on Indonesia's Sumatra island. Photo by Reuters/Crack Palinggi, courtesy of www.alertnet.org

At a powwow here this morning, fund-raisers, press officers, and writers—not quite believing the cascade of bad news–huddled over the headlines sprawled across a table in one of the cubicles: “Quakes Ravage Sumatra and Samoas,” said one.

“Tsunami Came Too Fast for Warnings to Reach All,” said another.

“Typhoon Eases, Leaving More Than 300 Dead,” said a third.

And this one, which summed up the shock of it all best:  “Week of Tragedy for Asia.”

It’s a week that has left us here at Oxfam racing to help meet the needs of some of the countless people who have seen their homes crash down around them following the earthquake that hit Sumatra, their villages flattened by the tsunami that swept into Samoa and Tonga, and all that’s familiar washed away in the flooding unleashed by Typhoon Ketsana  as it roared across the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

We’ve sent an emergency response team into Padang, Indonesia where it will work with one of our partner organizations to distribute some of the supplies we fortunately had pre-positioned there—including 5,000 tarps for shelter. In the Philippines, we’re helping to supply 25,000 families with clean water and other essentials, like blankets and clothing. And for those devastated by the tsunami, we have emergency supplies available for up to 10,000 people.

But clearly it’s not enough—and more trouble is on the way. A new super-typhoon is now approaching the Philippines.  We’ll be keeping our website updated with more information as soon as we get it.

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