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Deaths of tourists hit Europe hard

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Deaths of tourists hit Europe hard

By Glenn Frankel, Washington Post | December 31, 2004

LONDON -- The photo of a young Swedish father sobbing in his hospital bed in Thailand after he was reunited with his 2-year-old son appeared in newspapers throughout Europe yesterday, symbolizing this continent's sense of loss and horror over southeast Asia's tsunamis.

Europe is reeling from the tsunamis, not just because the ever-rising death toll has surpassed 125,000 but because of the growing realization that among the dead could likely be several thousand tourists who had traveled to southern Asia for the Christmas holidays to escape Europe's dismal winter for warm, sunny beaches.

Sweden appears to be the hardest hit. While the official death count so far is 44, Prime Minister Goeran Persson told a press conference in Stockholm the final count will be in the hundreds and could exceed 1,000. His government estimates that 1,400 Swedish tourists remain missing, but the Associated Press cited warnings from travel agencies that more than 3,000 Swedes remain unaccounted for.

Persson declared Jan. 1 a national day of mourning "We're facing a New Year's celebration unlike anything we've seen before. This is an extraordinarily sad and serious situation," he said.

The country was captivated by the tale of Hannes Bergstrom, age 2, who was found after the tsunami, separated from his family. He was evacuated to a hospital and reunited with his father, Marko Karkkainen; their photograph dominated the European press yesterday. But Hannes's mother, Cecilia, is still missing.

"Stupid Giant Wave," read the headline in Aftonbladet, an afternoon tabloid, quoting the little boy's words.

Besides the Swedes, some 1,000 Germans, 600 Italians, 430 Norwegians, 219 Danes, and 200 Finns are among the missing, according to wire service accounts. Most were visiting resort areas in Thailand or Sri Lanka. The Thai government has put the total of confirmed Scandinavian dead at 95 so far.

Britain has officially confirmed only 28 dead so far, among the 6,000 British tourists estimated to be in the region. But the country has led the way in charitable donations, with the government pledging $100 million for the relief effort and individuals adding $50 million more.

The fact that so many European tourists were among the victims "has helped to bring it home to people here because it somehow has made it all seem more real," said Laura Conrad, a spokeswoman for Save the Children UK. "A lot of us know someone who was in the region for the holidays."

Many British newspapers featured the story of Louise Willgrass, 43, a mother of four, who had just got out of her family's rental car in Phuket, Thailand, to buy suntan lotion at a supermarket when the tsunami hit. It swept the car carrying Nigel Willgrass and the four children inland; they survived. Willgrass eventually found his wife's body in a hospital morgue.

From The Boston Globe

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The numbers of Norwegians which is missing was rised to 462 this morning, and the government fear that most of those is dead. About 100 of these missing was children. There are also 980 others which may be missing. These was in some of the countries, but didn't need to be in the disaster area. So the total numbers of missing may be 1 400. The total numbers of death is still 21. 18 has been found in Thailand, while two has been found in Sri Lanka.

All the scandinavian countries has large numbers of missing and death, even though we're quite small compared to other countries further south in Europe. Thailand was one of the main tourist countries, and between 40 and 50 000 scandinavian tourists was belived to be in the disaster area. Most from Sweden, with around 35 000, then Norway and Denmark with 7 000 and 6 000. Finland had 3 000 tourists in the disaster area.

1'st of January has been declared as national grieve day in Norway and Sweden.

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I heard Sweden was one of the most charitable nations taken on a per/GNP basis. Must be horrofying waiting for news. :(

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