Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Randi Rhodes makes serious accusations

I am an avid listener to US Liberal Talk Shows. Amongst the best are Mike Malloy, Laura Flanders and Randi Rhodes, who are part of the Air America radio network, the only Liberal Radio National Network in the US.

On last evening's show, Randi made some serious allegations that the huge death toll in Sri Lanka and India could have been avoided as there had been sufficient time to have warnings to have been issued to the regions so that people could have moved to higher and safer ground.

I am not competent to comment on the Sri Lankan issue.

It is clear it was Indian bureaucratic red tapism that has led to the high death toll in mainland India. It was, however, not related to the issues listed by Randi for other locations, namely the commercialism of protecting the operators of tourist locations.There is evidence that this was probably the case in Thailand. I do not have any evidence or asny references that this was the case in Sri Lanka. It was NOT the case in India, where it was not any major tourist locations that were hit by the tsunami.

Indian scientists monitoring earthquakes are governed by bureaucratic rules regarding issuing warnings. This is restricted to earthquakes that originate within the territorial integrity of the Indian Republic and specifically does not cover earthquakes which occur outside of this territory.

Some Indian scientists knew of the earthquakes in advance of the tragedy, but stayed within their bureaucratic guidelines. If the US San Diego military base had addressed the issue as a code Red Alert and got to the highest level of the Indian Government, it is certain that this huge death toll could have been greatly minimised.

But this is no excuse as the issue of responsibility lies within India and not outside it.

Here is the relevant quote from the Channel News Asia which was entitled:

First tsunami alert lost in Indian bureaucracy

"The country's top science and technology official told The Times of India that his department learnt of the tsunami strike from the television.

V.S. Ramamurthy, secretary at the department, said they had "no clue".

The undersea earthquake hit off Indonesia's Sumatra at 6:29 am, sending killer tsunamis racing across the Indian Ocean.

Although Indian scientists monitored the quake, because it was outside the country, they just relaxed, the Times said. That had been "the first mistake", Ramamurthy said." (Emphasis mine.)


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