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Tsunami Disaster in Asia: News from IUF Affiliates in the Affected Countries

Posted to the IUF website 29-Dec-2004

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Following the devastation caused by the tsunamis that hit 10 Asian countries on December 26 the IUF secretariat is beginning to receive initial information from affiliates in those countries most affected.

Current news suggests that hardest hit amongst IUF members is the tourism sector federation in Phuket, Thailand where we have initial reports of hotel workers' deaths in coastal hotels, particularly in resorts off the main island of Phuket. According to a Thai TV news report on December 28, the Khao Lak Sofitel (Accor Group) resort hotel suffered severe damage. The report indicated that significant loss of life may have occurred among workers in lower floors of the hotel, including workers caught in basement kitchen and food service areas when the tsunamis hit. Following those initial reports the IUF has been in direct contact with Accor headquarters in Paris. The now confirm that of 250 workers on shift the morning of the disaster 221 have been contacted and are safe.

Similarly devastating and tragic news, possibly on an even greater scale, is beginning to come in from plantation areas in Indonesia and the IUF Indonesian office is sending staff to meet with plantation workers there to assess their situation.

In Malaysia initial reports provided by our affiliate there the National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers (NUHBRW) from the resort islands of Penang and Langkawi are of significant damage to tourism workers homes and properties with no direct loss of life reported at this time.

In Sri Lanka IUF affiliates' membership is concentrated around Colombo and in the high range areas of tea production and therefore not directly in the path of the tsunamis which affected the eastern and southern coastlines. However losses to the families of those members are likely to be significant and the IUF will remain in close touch with our affiliates in Sri Lanka.

The IUF secretariat has sent the following message of solidarity and support to IUF affiliates in the affected countries.

It was with great shock and enormous sadness that we heard of the devastating tsunamis that hit your country's shoreline in recent days.

Like everyone we are trying to come to terms with the enormity of this catastrophe and the massive suffering that it has brought with it. On behalf of our entire membership our thoughts are with you all and please convey our deepest condolences to all those so tragically affected by this disaster.

On behalf of the IUF and its entire membership I want to ensure you of our support and solidarity in this time of such great loss for your members, their families and communities. Words cannot convey how much we feel your suffering and how much we would hope that our thoughts and our solidarity might bring even limited comfort in this time of such great anguish and pain.

We are trying to establish what best the IUF can do in these circumstances. In particular we are seeking to assess the extent of losses amongst our affiliates.

Please keep us closely informed of the developing situation and we will stay closely in touch in the coming days.

Once again let me offer our deepest condolences and our support and solidarity to those affected by this massive human tragedy.