“Tsunami survivors criticise Aust rescue effort,” claims the ABC:
Some Australians returning from the tsunami-devastated region of Phuket say they are surprised the Australian Government has failed to help survivors leave the island.
Sydney couple Dave and Joanne Ali were on their honeymoon at Phutong Beach and were just getting out of bed when the first wave hit.
Joanne Ali says they felt abandoned because many other countries were evacuating their nationals from the devastated region.
“The Germans … their country cared enough about them to send extra planes just to get them out,” she said.
“[There was the] same thing you know, buses were coming by saying ‘are you from Hong Kong, are you from here, are you from there?’
“[There were] people going ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ and they just picked them up and we were left just standing … and we got this SMS saying, ‘Alexander Downer is sending you water and blankets’.
“We all just went ‘oh great, that’s going to do a lot for us’, we just want to get out of here.”
The pair—who, unlike 24,000 others, are not dead—were able to leave on their scheduled flight home. As J.F. Beck notes: “It wouldn’t have had the same impact if the headline read: ‘Sydney couple criticise Aust rescue effort.’”
UPDATE. Reader Raff finds another quote from poor David Ali: “I just got the feeling if it wasn’t something to do with terrorism and if (Prime Minister) John Howard couldn’t get political mileage out of it, then why bother.” Seven thousand Australians were in the affected areas; the Alis are two of them.
UPDATE II. Not all Australians trapped on Thailand are so self-obsessed. Take 55-year-old Bill Strahmer, for example:
Mr Strahmer had been listed among the missing, feared dead along with hundreds of Thai and foreign nationals.
But his son Matt said his father was found working at a local hospital unaware of his family’s fears.
UPDATE III. Morquendi, one of the SE Asian bloggers running Tsunami Help, reports genuine hardship:
I just got back from the Southern city of Galle, in Sri Lanka, I’m not going to go into what I saw there. The one thing that i discovered in speaking to the displaced people there who’re living in the temples and churches and schools is that they needs clothes as much as food and water. I guess this is something a lot of us tend to overlook. And (I’m not kidding) there is a severe shortage of undergarments. Not a joke. Specially for the women. I guess no one thinks of it as a need but a lot of people are finding it very very difficult. I don’t know if this is something particular to the displaced people of Sri Lanka. Maybe you guys doing aid work in other countries should also look into it.
I’m also looking for 2 friends and their 4 year old son who were on Phuket. Kumudhinee Samuel, and Chandraguptha Thenuwara and their son Charudatta Thenuwara. If there’s any news of any Sri Lankans in Phuket anyone please drop me a word at email@example.com
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