Wednesday, 2 February 2005
Tsunami Disaster: Statements.
David Norris (Independent)
I welcome the Minister of State to the House. He is right to state that the tsunami was an appalling catastrophe. It was a reminder of the immense power of nature. The first photographs I saw scarcely moved me because they were flat satellite photographs — the wave just looked like a kind of ripple. I was moved by a photograph I saw in a newspaper of people on a tourist beach. There was a wall of water behind them that was five times their height. They were dressed in holiday clothes and were almost smiling, but it was obvious they did not realise what was happening behind them. I do not think I would have realised because I would have thought of it initially just as water, even though it was on an enormous scale. I imagine that most people were killed by the debris — motor cars, boats, bits of houses, etc. — that was collected within the waves. Some people were smashed against rocks.
I would like to correct slightly Senator Mansergh's comment that the tragedy did not have an environmental element. Of course there was such an element. The impact of the wave was massively increased in areas in which mangrove swamps have been removed.