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The year 2004 ended with the tragic Indian Ocean tsunami disaster where the death toll is past 150,000 and rising.

This tragedy has saddened the world, but there is one positive that has come out of it. It is the bringing together of nations to not only provide relief for the countries and victims, but to examine ways of putting in place proper warning systems that may help minimise the loss of life in similar emergencies in the future. {{more}}

The increasingly shrinking global world of today, being made even smaller by the advances in communication technology, made ever so much more personal tragedies of this nature. Twas a time when the true picture of such a disaster would only have emerged after days and weeks but today the images are flashed into our living rooms in all its macabre realism.

Sadly, though, while advances in technology allow us to feel closer to the reality of such tragedies, they also bring home much more forcibly the inequalities that exist in our world. It shows up the crass poverty of so many people in many parts of the world, which are ironically at the same time getaway haven for persons from the rich first-world nations.

The contradictions and contrasts are so glaring.

This time this natural disaster swept all in its wake, rich and poor, third-world village dweller and first-world holidaymaker. The debates are ongoing and will continue for some time yet. Now is the time for providing relief; tomorrow will inevitably bring the apportioning of blame and, we hope, the deep discussion on ways to avoid such massive loss of life in the event of similar natural occurrences.

It is therefore some relief to us that right here in the Caribbean our Seismic Unit, based at the UWI in Trinidad and headed by our own Dr. Richie Robertson, assures us that they are constantly monitoring activities in the region. Fears being expressed about Kick ’em Jenny and La Soufriere therefore can be better put into perspective.

We will all agree that warning systems should and must be put in place around the world to alert citizens in the event nature turns on us. But we are one step up if we continue to monitor constantly as we have been doing increasingly since the eruptions of La Soufriere.

Vigilance must be our watchword.