Search continues for missing Czechs in tsunami disaster

03-01-2005

Like elsewhere in the world, end of year celebrations in the Czech Republic passed under the cloud of the tsunami disaster, as radio and TV channels brought news of the latest developments. On Sunday a Czech military plane brought back the body of the first Czech casualty, a twenty four year old woman, and a group of survivors whose holiday in Asia turned into a nightmare.

Czech tourists are back from Sri Lanka, photo: CTKCzech tourists are back from Sri Lanka, photo: CTK Daniela Lazarova has been following the story. Daniela how many Czechs are still missing?

"Well, the weekend has brought some relief in this respect. On Friday there were still over 100 Czechs on the missing list but over the past two days many of them managed to contact their families - so at the present time there are 33 Czechs still unaccounted for. As you said the body on one Czech victim was brought back on Sunday and Czech military planes have made several trips to the affected regions to deliver humanitarian aid and bring home survivors - many of whom were left without money, without passports and who have heart wrenching stories to tell of what they saw around them."

Indonesia, photo: CTKIndonesia, photo: CTK Most of the missing Czechs appear to have been in southern Thailand - isn't that right?

"Yes, the Czech embassy in Bangkok has thirty people on its missing list, and in five cases there is very little hope that they may have survived. There's also one person missing in Sri Lanka whom there's very little hope of finding alive. As for the others -many of them were travelling on their own, rather than with a travel agency -and are believed to have been in southern Thailand at the time of the disaster but it is possible they were elsewhere and have -for some reason - not managed to contact their families as yet. I spoke to the Czech ambassador to Bangkok, Jiri Sitler this morning to find out how the embassy is coping:

"We have two priorities right now - to find all the missing people and to transport all the injured citizens back home."

Are they getting professional help? A lot of them are suffering from shock.

Thailand, photo:CTKThailand, photo:CTK "Of course they are getting professional help. We have three injured Czech citizens still in Thai hospitals. All of them are seriously injured but their condition is not life threatening and they can be transported back home within a few days."

Are there Czechs there who have lost someone and who are still searching for them on their own?

"Yes, there are some families here trying to locate friends and relatives but they are not searching on their own so much - rather they are using our services."

Meanwhile, authorities here in the Czech Republic are doing their best to help survivors and people who are still searching for friends and family. The Foreign Ministry has several hot lines in operation. There are psychologists helping survivors and bereaved relatives - and of course a lot of attention is being paid to the possibility of diseases developing among those who have returned.

03-01-2005