Written by Harry Porter
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Topics: Tsunami

Friday, 15 April 2005

image for Tsunami Visitor Toll Keeps Rising
Councillors take a break from their arduous schedule.

The official visitor toll in the aftermath of the Asian tsunami has now topped 200,000.

Yet politicians from across the globe, from world leaders to town councillors, still pour in to see the devastation for themselves - each claiming the damage and human suffering is every bit as bad as they had been told.

Pulling an overworked relief worker away from a vital project for a photo-shoot, Councillor Ernie Hogden, chairman of Earlsferry and Stevenage County Council's recreation committee in the UK, said: "The pictures on TV and the news coverage painted a very distressing picture of those whose lives have been torn apart by this horrific disaster.

"Seeing it for yourself makes you realise how accurate these reports were."

Cllr Hogden was speaking from the Maldives where he and a party of six other council members were presenting table tennis equipment to a youth club that had all its facilities swept away by the tsunami.

"We are so moved," he added, "that it is likely we will return in the summer with a karaoke machine that will provide some entertainment for these unfortunate young people."

The compassion being shown in the aftermath of one of the globe's worst natural disasters is beyond precedent.

In one astonishing act of selfless support from Britain, the entire 22-members of Aberfeldy & Finchley Town Council's policy and resources committee jetted out to Sri Lanka for a little publicised two-week donation of playing cards and 16 airline sandwiches.

Visibly moved, Mayor Robin Kauphers took a poolside break from being measured for a suit, to praise the fund-raising efforts of his community, thousands of miles away.

"Little children have donated their pocket money," he said, "families have gone without, pensioners have been reduced to eating sticks - all have given what they could to help others.

"It was our collective responsibility to ensure their astonishing fund-raising efforts were not squandered; we only wish we could have raised more."

Mayor Kauphers even revealed that members of the visiting party had willingly sold some of their Duty Free purchases to help with replenishing bar stocks that had been destroyed.

"It was the least we could do," he added, "and it has allowed us to make a small, but nevertheless worthwhile, contribution to the local economy.

"The money we raised will be spent in Sri Lanka - the girls appreciate everything we are doing for them."

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