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World Bank President Issues Statement on Asia's Earthquake and Tsunamis

World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn today issued the following statement on the tragic events in Asia over the weekend:
On Sunday morning, December 26, Indonesia was struck by a massive earthquake, with its epicenter off the west coast of northern Sumatra. The quake and its aftershocks were felt in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand. It triggered tsunamis in the Indian Ocean which struck India, Malaysia, the Maldives, Thailand, and Sri Lanka.

We are only beginning to grasp the magnitude of the disaster in terms of loss of life, material damage and economic impact across the region. It is clear, however, that it will take some time before the full impact of this terrible crisis is known.
Senior management from the World Bank's East Asia/Pacific and South Asia teams are in direct contact with the governments in the countries affected. The teams are assessing the feasibility of reallocating resources quickly within portfolios, or the provision of emergency credits, to respond to immediate humanitarian needs in the countries hit by this disaster. The crisis team is meeting daily. All Bank Group offices and facilities in the affected countries were undamaged, and will remain the focal point of our efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis that may follow this natural disaster.
I have written to the leaders of the affected countries to extend, on behalf of the World Bank Group family, our deepest condolences to those who have suffered as a consequence of this tragedy.  As the Bank has considerable experience in reconstruction after natural disasters, I have also offered them our assistance working closely with the United Nations and our major partners.
While we are mindful of the terrible cost in human lives from this disaster, we are also concerned for the safety of our staff and their families. We have been working throughout the weekend to account for those known to have been in the worst-affected areas at the time of the disaster.  Though communication to some areas is difficult, the Bank's security team is reasonably sure that all our staff are now safe. We do know, however, that several staff have lost close relatives, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.

During this time of the year, which should be a festive and joyous season, our thoughts and prayers are with all those whose lives have been affected by this tragedy.
Jim Wolfensohn

(China.org.cn December 29, 2004)

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