Wednesday, February 09, 2005

 

Of tsunamis and pirates

Chandira's right, rather sadly--the tsunami seems to have vanished from the headlines, and that's sickening--please continue to donate as much as you can, as the "final" death toll will not be reached or known for years, due to disease and starvation and displacement.

The tsunami did have one good effect--piracy seems to have been dealt a serious blow.

Tsunami halts pirate attacks06/02/2005

Kuala Lumpur - The tsunami which devastated Indonesia's Aceh province on Sumatra island has halted deadly pirate attacks and kidnappings of seafarers in the busy adjoining Malacca Strait, an official said on Sunday.

"Since December 26 until today there is not a single pirate attack in the Malacca Strait," Noel Choong, regional manager of the Piracy Reporting Centre, told AFP.

The waterway bordered by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia is used by about 50 000 ships a year carrying a third of world trade and half its oil supplies.

Choong said some pirates may have been killed by the tsunami or their boats and weapons could have been destroyed.

The presence of numerous warships in the region to aid survivors could also have deterred pirates based on the Indonesian side of the strait.

"The large presence of naval ships off Aceh may be a deterrent factor," he said.

But Choong said security forces from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore must continue patrols in the strait and remain vigilant despite the lull.

"It is just temporary. Once the pirates regroup and train new members, they will resume their activities. The money is too good to stop their criminal acts," he said.

Choong said he expected pirate attacks to start once reconstruction in Aceh was complete. "Once it is back to normal, and commerce resumes, pirates will again sail the high seas," he warned.

Thirty mariners were killed worldwide last year in pirate attacks including four in the Malacca Strait, the Piracy Reporting Centre - part of the International Maritime Bureau - said in its annual report.

Since late 2003, there had been a steady increase in attacks and kidnappings in the strait and along the coast of Aceh, where a separatist revolt is being waged.

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