Tsunami Anniversary: A Force “Beyond Anything With Which Mere Mortals Could Cope,” CBS’s Allan Pizzey Writes

By Brian 

On CBSNews.com, correspondent Alan Pizzey reflects on the tsunami:

  Technically, my Christmas vacation last year was supposed to be inviolate except for “news emergencies.” The call that a major earthquake had triggered a tsunami of epic proportion was accompanied by a laconic comment from the London bureau chief to the effect that while the extent of the devastation wasn’t yet clear, available evidence suggested this one met the criteria for cutting the holiday short.

Within hours it was clear that it most certainly did, and three of us based in Rome, along with a freelance soundman, were on a plane heading for Sri Lanka. A few years previously my family and I had spent an idyllic New Year’s with friends at a resort on the west coast of the island. Initial reports said it had been hit hard.

Most of the disaster areas, war zones and general hell holes that I have travelled to and spent time in the course of more than 30 years as a foreign correspondent have been in effect alien territory, other worlds that one drops in on, but to which one has neither emotional nor historical connections. The fact that I had been there on non-working time made the Sri Lanka coast more than just another story. I knew what had been there before Nature went mad. In a way that helped put the devastation in sharper perspective.

Certainly perspective was hard to come by. Nothing in my experience of destruction — and that includes earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, fires and a surfeit of the man-made devastation of war — compares with what the tsunami wreaked…

Here’s the rest…