Tsunami notes

Tsunami notes

: Among the casualties: 1,700 people on one train, qualifying this as the worst rail disaster ever amidst what may become the worst natural disaster ever.

: On NPR tonight, I heard a satellite expert say that most people would have been safe if only they’d walked one mile inland or gotten to higher ground (on videos, we’ve seen people on higher floors safe). There is no formal warning system but once the earthquake hit and once the nearby islands were hit, it’s hard to believe that media could not have been alerted. Radio DJs panicking the way American weathermen panic at one inch of snow could have saved countless lives.

: See the first before-and-after satellite images.

: The BBC has started one of its logs of quick reports from correspondents around the globe.

: Among the victims are those tied to the famous. Sir Richard Attenborough lost three family members, including his granddaughter. An Australian rugby star and his bride were lost on their honeymoon. A model lost her boyfriend (in a story painfully overplayed in the New York Daily News).

: The Times of India lists entire tribes that may have been made extinct by the wave.

: The Guardian tells the story of the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami blog (but without a link or address).

: LATER: Glenn Reynolds writes about the internet and disasters.

The Internet accounts have given the disaster an immediacy and a personal dimension that traditional news accounts lack, and the self-organizing character of the blogosphere has allowed for rapid response as people who want to help have been put together with ways to help.

That won’t replace traditional efforts, of course: Despite being criticized as “stingy”

by Jan Egeland, UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, the United States has sent an aircraft carrier and a Navy expeditionary group that was supposed to go on holiday leave to help with the recovery effort. It’ll be a long time before the Internet crowd can dispatch resources like that.

But nonetheless, a lot of human capital has been brought to bear on this problem in very short order, through voluntary cooperation.