The level of suffering inflicted on a population of mostly already impoverished villagers rekindled memories of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, in which Aceh, just a few hundred kilometres southwest of Phuket, suffered the most.
For many in Phuket the Palu disaster is much closer to home, bringing forth the memories of the loss of life and destruction of the tsunami on Dec 26, 2004, to which Thailand suffered a reported 4,812 confirmed deaths, 8,457 injuries, and a further 4,499 missing.
Most of the confirmed deaths and missing were from the Khao Lak area, just an hour’s drive north from our own airport.
Long-term expats in Phuket remember that fateful day, and the days, weeks and months that followed as search-and-rescue efforts turned to cleanup-and-assistance campaigns to long-term rebuilding and support for those who survived.
In terms of financial assistance to the Palu disaster, the Thai government immediately provided a B5 million donation via the Indonesian Embassy and was coordinating with Thai investors in Indonesia to access another B10mn in aid.
The Thai government was instantly flamed for the pithy donation, but also admitted that it was a gesture of good faith of more support to come.
But when it come to cash donations, some people may remember that Thaksin Shinawatra, as Thai Prime Minister during the 2004 disaster, refused direct monetary donations to the Thai government from major relief agencies and other governments. Maybe he was all to well aware of where some of those funds might end up.
What resulted was the ideal outcome that people around the world made direct donations to internationally respected relief organisations that arranged their own efforts by coordinating with local government agencies. In short, cash donations resulted in direct, immediate efforts on the ground, where it was needed most – and most urgently.
The Thai government has opened a bank account named “Thai Hearts to Indonesia” with Krung Thai Bank, account number 067-0-13037-0, and invited people to make donations for relief for those in Palu in need.
The Phuket News urges all people to make some donation to their preferred trusted relief agency to help the Palu survivors – but especially all people in Phuket must make their own donations, no matter how small. It doesn’t take much, and we know what it feels like.