Reuters blog archive
from George Chen:
By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.
You might consider yourself very smart, powerful or perhaps wealthy, but after watching live coverage on TV of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday afternoon, what was your reaction? We're all nobodies in the face of the forces of nature.
On Friday afternoon before the earthquake, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index showed unexpected signs of recovery but the rebound was unfortunately short-lived. Immediately following the news alert about Japan's worst earthquake in decades, stock markets from Hong Kong to Shanghai all retreated quickly.
This was a very natural reaction to such a massive natural disaster. Almost the same reaction was seen after the earthquake in China's Sichuan province in May 2008. When investors feel uncertain and then the market sentiment becomes anxious, they sell. Fair enough – who really is in the mood to trade after seeing such a horrible event?
But think twice.
The phrase 危机 (wei ji) in Chinese for “crisis” is comprised of 危, danger and 机, opportunity. If you think you are smart, powerful or rich, is it time for you to turn the danger into an opportunity? It doesn't simply mean you should immediately buy stocks to help the markets recover, so people may feel better and more hopeful about the economic outlook for Asia, but you need a plan to figure out what to do next.
The full economic impact of the sixth most powerful earthquake ever recorded is not yet known. Many hundreds of lives have been reported lost in Japan. Aftershocks are a danger and other nations fear a tsunami running across the Pacific will spread the damage more widely. Though uncertainty is rife, the earthquake is more likely to add to global growth and attendant inflationary pressures than subtract from them. It also raises concerns about Japan's long-running fiscal dangers.
The earthquake struck close to a relatively sparsely populated area of Japan. In contrast, the Kobe earthquake in January 1995 struck one of the most populated and industrialized regions, killing 6,434 people and causing damage estimated at around $100 billion. The current quake will leave a large reconstruction bill -- but, on current indications, a smaller one than for Kobe.
from Russell Boyce:Christchurch, New Zealand; the death toll now stands at 147 with 200 still missing. This was the latest disaster covered by Tim Wimborne. In recent weeks he has been to Toowoomba and Brisbane for the floods, Cairns for the typhoon Yasi and now NZ to cover the earthquake. Tim worked closely with stringer Simon Baker to produce a file that saddens the heart, buildings normally seen on holiday postcards now forming the tombs of those who have died and as yet have not been pulled from the rubble. For me one of the strongest images is that of a man picking through the rubble of what was once his home. With Tim's birds-eye view we see that nothing is really worth saving amid the dust and rubble, a photograph, a smashed lamp and a model boat.
Resident of the beach-side suburb of New Brighton, Julian Sanderson, searches for personal items through the remains of his house, destroyed by Tuesday's earthquake, in Christchurch February 25, 2011. International rescue teams searched through the rubble of quake-ravaged Christchurch on Friday for more than 200 people still missing, but rain and cold were dimming hopes of finding more survivors in the country's worst natural disaster in decades. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne
In addition to all the death and destruction we've been reporting in our news reports (see the latest here), the earthquake on Tuesday in Christchurch, New Zealand has caused significant damage to the city's two cathedrals, especially to their trademark spires.
Here are pictures by Reuters photographer Simon Baker of the damage to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Roman Catholic) and Christchurch Cathedral (Anglican), with pre-quake pictures below them.
from Russell Boyce:
Even though the world's gaze is firmly focused on the events in Egypt and Tunisia, top stories continue to break in Asia. Last week during my morning call with Enny Nuraheni, our Indonesia Chief Photographer, she told there was a ferry on fire with hundreds on board, a train had crashed and Mount Bromo was spewing ash, all on the same day. In Japan Mount Kirishima was erupting, thousands of birds culled to try to stop the spread of bird flu and the economy and government were under pressure. But all Japanese worries were forgotten briefly as Japan beat Australia 1-0 in the AFC Asian Cup final in Doha.
Volcanic lightning or a dirty thunderstorm is seen above Shinmoedake peak as it erupts, between Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, in this photo taken from Kirishima city and released by Minami-Nippon Shimbun January 28, 2011. Ash and rocks fell across a wide swathe of southern Japan straddling the prefectures of Miyazaki and Kagoshima on Thursday, as one of Mount Kirishima's many calderas erupted, prompting authorities to raise alert levels and call on for an evacuation of all residents within a 2 km (1.2 miles) radius of the volcano. REUTERS/Minami-Nippon Shimbun
(Photo: A girl with a Christmas hat in a makeshift camp in Port-au-Prince January 24, 2010/Shannon Stapleton)
Maritza Monfort is singing along to a Christmas carol in Creole on the radio, but the Haitian mother of two is struggling to lift her spirits. "I sing to ease my pain. If I think too much, I'll die," said Monfort, 38, one of over a million Haitians made homeless by a January earthquake that plunged the poor, French-speaking Caribbean nation into the most calamitous year of its history.
With a raging cholera epidemic and election turmoil heaping more death and hardship on top of the quake devastation, Haitians are facing an exceptionally bleak Christmas and New Year marked by the prospect of more suffering and uncertainty.
from The Great Debate:
By Danielle Grace Warren
The opinions expressed are her own.
The people of Haiti have a name for the earthquake that rocked their country: Goudougoudou, an onomatopoetic creole nickname invented for the earthquake meant to emulate the sound of the earth rumbling, the buildings falling. There are numbers for it, too: 230,000 deaths, 59 aftershocks and 1.5 million people who remain displaced nearly a year later.
While over a billion dollars in US aid was promised was for rebuilding Haiti is tied up in the umbilicus of Washington, Port au Prince residents are settling between piles of debris — 98% of which still has not been removed. Haitians pick through the rubble for building scraps to reinforce torn tarpaulin.
(Photo: The "Lord of the Miracles" painting during a procession in Lima October 18, 2010/Enrique Castro-Mendivil)
Thousands of worshippers dressed in purple robes paraded a revered icon through Peru's capital this week in a tradition dating from 1687 when a mural depicting the same image of Jesus escaped unscathed in a powerful earthquake.
The procession of the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles), a mural picturing a dark-skinned Christ that is said to have been painted in a shrine by an Angolan slave, has drawn crowds of Roman Catholic devotees for centuries.
from Tales from the Trail:
There was a tremendous outpouring of goodwill and money for Haiti after the quake, which prevented a further humanitarian catastrophe. But so far, nine months after the capital was devastated, progress in "building back better" seems painfully slow. Rubble still chokes the narrow streets of Port-au-Prince, and 1.3 million people occupy every available scrap of land in tents awaiting resettlement, or even just a government plan on what to do with them.
Given the mind-boggling scale of the disaster, the weakness of the government and economy even before the earthquake, the lack of land as well as clearly defined land ownership records, it is unfair to expect too much.
from The Great Debate UK:
-Alexander Vollebregt is Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology and Head of the Urban Emergencies Programme. The opinions expressed are his own.-
At the request of President Rene Preval’s Strategic Advisory Group, several members of Delft University’s Urban Emergencies Centre are now working with the Haiti authorities to assess how post-disaster urban redevelopment can support the rebuilding process in Port au Prince.