Anorak News | Dead Unsure

Dead Unsure

by | 11th, October 2005

‘IT’S like listening to a macabre auction as the papers bid to work out how many are dead in the Asian earthquake.

The Sun estimates the death count at 30,000. The Express says the “disaster toll” has reached 40,000. The Mail says 20,000 children are dead, while the fate of a further 10,000 people is unknown.

Add those figures to the 10,000 we were told had died in Hurricane Katrina, and the Mail says “you could be forgiven for thinking this was the year the Earth was cursed”.

It’s tempting to think, says Michael Hanlon, the Mail’s science editor, that “Earth…is taking her revenge on humanity for a century or more of profligacy, pollution and over-population.” But don’t worry. Hanlon says such a temptation should be dismissed. We’re okay.

Even if, as the Mail also says, there are fears that faced with so much disaster the British are suffering from “compassion fatigue”.

The combined effects of the earthquake, the famine in Niger, the Asian tsunami and Katrina can stop us giving. Too many charity records dull the senses and make our hearts hard.

Perhaps this is why the papers speak in big numbers? Are they worried that we will only respond if the body count is high enough?

Why bother finding out the real figure when you can round up the number of those thought to have been killed to the nearest ten thousand? If you won’t give at 10,000 dead, what about at 20,000? 30,000? More? The papers can get more. How much will it take to get the readers digging ever deeper into their pockets?

And this one-upmanship continues at a more local level. The Express spots Mir Eijaz, from Luton, and says how he’s lost 60 relatives in the disaster. It’s hard to take in something like that. It’s too appalling.

But over in the Mail, things are even grimmer for Kahwaja Iqbal, a businessman from Oldham, who says 80 of his relatives are “feared” dead.

But if you want something more, turn to the Sun’s headline “100 of our family dead in the rubble”, and take in the grief-stricken” family of “distraught” Kanweez Ahmed.

But while the papers search for the biggest sufferer, the British people just hear the pain and give.

The Mail says Britons have already pledged millions to support those hurt by the Asian earthquake.

However many they may be…’

Posted: 11th, October 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink