Asian tidal wave
kills over 114,000
More than 114,000 people died in an earthquake that figured
in the seismic scale at 8.9. Epicentre in the west of Sumatra,
which is an island of Indonesia the quake hit in the early
morning of December 26 and it triggered a tidal wave that
devastated a vast stretch of shores across nations killing
and injuring thousands of people.
Though the Pascific Tsunami Warning Centre came to know about
the impending earthquake nearly an hour ago, the US organisation
was clueless regarding who to contact.
In some areas, the earthquake-induced tidal serge rose to
30 feet in height. The giant tsunami waves swept into the
coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Maldives,
India and southern Thai islands preferred by tourists leaving
the seaside towns and villages in a shambles.
Though at first the details were sketchy, soon it dawned on
the global community that magnitude of the disaster was of
a massive scale. Sri Lanka is the hardest hit in this sudden
serge of the Indian Ocean. More than 13 thousands were reported
to have died with a million more still missing.
In Indonesia alone some eighty thousand people were feared
to have died as it took the full force of the surge that lasted
no more than ten to fifteen minutes but had left in its wake
a scene of devastation never before seen in the last 40 years.
The quake was the fifth largest in the world since 1900 and
biggest since 1964.
In southern Thailand at least 866 people were killed, including
foreign tourists at popular seaside resorts, and 5,000 injured
according to the official source.
In Malaysia 44 people, including many elderly and children
were reported to have been killed. In the low-lying area of
the Maldives a British tourist and 14 other people died.
In Bangladesh a father and his child were killed as a tourist
boat capsized from large waves.
The calamity was sudden. Although the waves were not as high
as it was in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the Indian shore has
also been swept away by the seawater. Bangladesh escaped the
scourge of the tidal surge, but the early morning tremor left
many feeling panicky, and the disastrous effect of the surging
water on coasts across Asia certainly intensified that fear.
The death toll was still rising at time of writing this news.
According to Khulna police, outlawed parties like Purba bangla
Communist Party (PBCPJanajuddho) are using women to carry
arms and collect tolls for them. Recently the police seized
a nine-mm pistol from Khadija begum an armed cadre of the
PBCP. Another woman Halima Begum, the wife of a PBCP cadre
was arrested in October from Rupsha upazila, when she was
trying to extort money from a businessman. In February, Sonadanga
police arrested 34 year old Anowara Begum who had been carrying
a six shooter and pipegun. Later the police found a Chinese
rifle, a pistol, three bombs and four daggers from her house.
The Khulna police say that many of the women are poor and
agree to undertake such risky operations in exchange of payment
from the outlawed parties.
on AL's Women Activists
It happened again. In another brutal attack on December 24,
eight women AL members were injured as a powerful bomb went
off at a meeting in Sylhet. The Mohila Awami League (AL) meeting
was being held at the residence of Syeda Zebunnessa Haque,
President of the women's wing of the party who was badly injured
and had to be operated upon. The other injured were the district
Mohila AL's General Secretary Ruby Fatema Islam, Vice-president
of the unit, city ward commissioner Shahan Ara Begum, Joint
Secretary of the unit and the city mayor's wife Asma Kamran
and three other activists Khaitunnesa, Madhury Goon and Bibharani.
According to Shahan Ara, the meeting started at around 4p.m.
and about forty minutes later a bomb was hurled from outside
the room. The police however, have said that the 'evidence
does not suggest' the locally made bomb had been hurled from
outside the room. Meanwhile the city and district units of
the AL brought out a big protest rally at Court Point.
A mineworker Yasir Ali was killed and four others including
a North Korean mine expert were critically injured in an accidental
explosion inside the mine in Maddhayapara Hard Rock Project
in Rangpur. According to Petrobangla sources the Korean company
under which the project is operating, did not follow proper
safety codes leading to the accident.
Only one and a half-week into the shocking murder of Sabera
Begum, the Headmistress of Siddeshwari Girls' High School,
along with her daughter, another brutal murder of an 63 year
old teacher has left the nation in a state of uneasiness and
tension. An elderly professor of Economics of Rajshahi University,
Muhammad Yunus, was stabbed and hammered to death only some
150 yards away from his house last Friday morning when an
unsuspected Yunus was returning home after his regular morning
walk. A revered economist who had been aligned with left politics
and someone who was known for his progressive and liberal
thinking Yunus survived another assault on his life only 9
years back in 1995. President of RU Bangabandhu Parishad Yunus'
pronounced alignment with the AL as well as his staunch opposition
to the fundamentalist political parties and their student
wings in the RU campus. Islami Chatra Shibir, who has a stronghold
in the RU campus is suspected to be behind this killing. The
murder sparked violent reaction from students, teachers, commoners,
people belonging to different professional groups all over
the country. Hundreds of angry students put barricades in
the Dhaka Rajshahi highway and forced the traffic on both
sides of the road grow miles long. A brilliant student all
through his life and a respected teacher, Yunus served in
various important positions at the university, was chairman
of the department, elected to the Senate twice, and worked
as students' advisor and proctor in the early 90s.
While the demand of a section of zealots to declare the Ahmadiyyas
non-Muslim should have been dealt with a strong hand the government
banned the Ahmadiyya publications. The government decision
wasn't exactly surprising as one particular party with the
four party alliance government was behind this hate campaign
against the Ahmadiyyas. That particular fanatic group proved
so influential that the government, though didn't realise
their original demand, didn't dare to refuse their demand
altogether. It imposed ban on the Ahmadiyya publications in
a bid to appease the fanatics. The Ahmadiyya leaders took
the issue to the court and on December 21 the High Court quite
expectedly stayed the government ban order. The fanatics however
were never pacified and after the court verdict had started
mobilising anew regrouping themselves. They had now taken
to the streets, bringing out violent processions and threatening
the government to immediately on triggering strong criticism
from the civil society which is absolutely unlawful, demand
that go against all sorts of democratic, ethical and moral
(R) thedailystar.net 2004