Malaysia’s casualties fewer, but major reconstruction still needed
NEW YORK, 24 January 2005 - Four weeks after Malaysia’s worst natural disaster, the relief effort is beginning to focus on rebuilding lives and livelihoods.
When the tsunami struck the Indian Ocean region on 26 December, Malaysia had fewer casualties than neighbouring countries such as Indonesia or Sri Lanka. An estimated 69 Malaysians lost their lives and 8,000 people were either made homeless or had their livelihoods disrupted. Most of the fatalities were local picnickers and anglers.
Malaysia was spared the full impact of the tsunami because the island of Sumatra shelters it from the Indian Ocean. In addition, lifeguards and an observation tower system provided warnings at the resorts and hotels in Penang and Langkawi.
Soon after the tsunami struck, UNICEF distributed bottled water, infant food and soap to around 5,200 survivors in the thirteen relief centres in Kuala Muda Kedah and Langkawi districts.
A month later, the people whose homes were destroyed have moved from relief camps to temporary accommodations. The 12 affected schools in Kuala Muda and Langkawi have reopened. UNICEF is working with the Malaysian Ministry of Health and other organisations to assess the counselling needs of the children traumatised by the tsunami.
UNICEF supplies have arrived at the Centre via chartered (and commercial flights) from various destinations in Europe. Flight arrivals happen both at the Centre and via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Cargo to KLIA is transported to the Centre in Subang via trucks before being loaded into two Hercules C-130 aircrafts on loan to UNICEF from the RMAF.
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