Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

APN Digital Editor Mark Furler Shares His Memories of Sri Lanka in the Aftermath of the Tsunami

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

APN Digital Editor Mark Furler Shares His Memories of Sri Lanka in the Aftermath of the Tsunami

Article excerpt

"COME, come, you must come. They have just found another one."

With those words, I am ushered from a small beach on the eastern side of Sri Lanka up a dirt road to a small "hut" of rubble.

A local fishing boat owner, who has turned grave digger, excitedly shows me the latest victim of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

In the ruins of a fishing village, I see the body of an 11-month-old girl. She looks like she is sleeping peacefully.

I can't help but think of my own five-month-old baby son, Samuel, back home.

Within minutes, the lifeless body of Alameen is put on a piece of timber, covered in a blue blanket and scurried to the beach as villagers come from everywhere to see if this little girl is one of their own.

Even as they carry her body, disinfectant is being poured into the street behind her as if that will somehow protect the village from disease and death.

Alameen is quickly - and haphazardly - identified as someone's child. The mother is at a makeshift refugee camp set up for the hundreds of people left homeless.

There's no time to get her for a final goodbye. Within 15 minutes the baby girl's body is wrapped in a purple sheet, lowered into a beachside grave and covered in sand by dozens of frenetic hands, under the supervision of a Muslim cleric.

A simple white flag is the only memorial to the little girl lost in those freak waves. The grave digger tells me along the coastline in the Ampara district there are hundreds of bodies buried in the sand.

Nearby, in a local church, there are 600 bodies piled up.

Photographer Kevin Farmer and I spent 10 days in Sri Lanka - first covering the immediate aftermath of the tsunami and then returning six months later to report on where the $2million donated by APN readers went.

It was a humbling and traumatic experience. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.