Saturday, January 08, 2005
Death Toll of 2,000 (08.01.2005)

The death toll of British victims from the tsunami has risen to 2,000 based upon lists of those missed by their friends and relatives. This is based upon a police estimate. Within the space of two days, the number of British dead or missing, a figure that could possibly have been released days earlier, in line with Sweden or Germany. This policy has also been followed by the United States where the State Department declined to release figures until the last two days.

The State Department has hesitated to estimate how many Americans who have not been located were assumed to be victims. For more than a week, department officials have been checking airline passenger lists, U.S. embassies abroad and sifting through telephone calls for concerned relatives and friends.

Hundreds of names have been taken off the tentative list of Americans who had not been located, But others have taken their place as the inquiry proceeds.

The State Department was examining the trade-off between transparency and uncertainty. One would wish to conclude that our government was also motivated by such concerns. However, political calculations have informed their actions in the past. Is it cynical to assume that they wished to time the release of these figures for maximum advantage, especially as Blair was facing criticism for his holiday?


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