[EDITORIALS]Time to help our neighborsAn earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Sunday, unleashing tidal waves that swept the coastal areas of southern Asia. Not just Indonesia but Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand and India, as well as some Southwest Asian countries, are suffering from the aftermath. By yesterday, the death toll had passed 13,000, and the damage to property is enormous. Lines of communication have still not been re-established in some areas, and the number of people killed is not yet accurately known. The damage assessment will snowball as time goes by.
The places suffering from the destruction have long relationships with South Korea. Some are internationally famous tourist venues, where many Korean companies have been operating. Millions of Koreans visit these countries every year. The disaster took place during the high season for tourism, and we are very concerned about the welfare of Korean tourists and residents there.
The international community has already begun emergency medical and rescue efforts. Seoul has allocated $600,000 for financial aid, and is considering sending emergency rescue and medical teams, in addition to supporting the work of nongovermental organizations there.
The government’s plan to lend support in the wake of this disaster is appropriate. Korea has close relations with these Asian nations. In a humanitarian spirit, Korea must be more active in such rescue initiatives in the international community.
We have experienced and overcome the ravages of war, and we were able to achieve the economic miracle of today with international assistance. It is now time for us to support our neighbors in need. We have finally become a country that is capable of returning the favors we received from the international community.
Part of the reason the disaster wreaked such enormous destruction is that some areas did not have proper tidal wave warning systems. Mankind cannot control all natural disasters, but it is possible to mitigate the damage through the use of sufficient warning systems.
We should learn a lesson from this earthquake. The government should check up on its disaster prevention systems, and should further develop its exchanges with related international organizations.