Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The True Scale of the Disaster Comes Home

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The True Scale of the Disaster Comes Home

Article excerpt

TODAY the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, tells us that at least 440 Britons are dead or missing after the tsunami disaster in South-East Asia, most of them in Thailand. It is a far higher figure than estimates earlier this week, and it marks the worst single disaster in terms of British lives lost since the Second World War. Yet this count is, alas, likely to increase as more bodies are identified during the days, weeks and months to come, as Andrew Gilligan's report today from Sri Lanka suggests. Undoubtedly, British officials have been cautious in their estimate of fatalities, but the sheer numbers of likely British casualties should be acknowledged, not fudged, if the Foreign Office and its permanent secretary, Sir Michael Jay, are to maintain their credibility. Of course, even the new estimate of British dead is a small number by comparison with the thousands of victims among those who were living in the afflicted areas. Yet the presence of so many people from this country among the dead helps bring home to us the scale of the disaster. …

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