Monday, 11 May 2009

Sri Lanka bloodbath + deadliest man-made flood

The United Nations is complaining about a “bloodbath” in the last Tamil Tiger-held area of Sri Lanka after it was shelled by heavy artillery. At least 378 civilians have been killed, including 100 children. An estimated 50,000 people are still trapped.

The Tigers blame the Sri Lankan government, while the government claims the Tigers killed their own people. It is difficult to arrive at the truth as the Sri Lankan government has banned journalists from reporting in the area, and has just arrested three British television reporters for producing “false” news. It is perhaps significant, though, that Sri Lanka’s official state-owned newspaper made no mention of the attack.

The Tigers have been fighting for an independent homeland since 1983, and more than 70,000 people have been killed in the war. (See also my blogs of Jan 28 and Feb 24)

On this day....71 years ago, China was being overrun by the invading Japanese, who were threatening a crucial railway junction at Zhengzhou. In desperation, the leader of the Chinese Nationalists, Chiang Kai-shek ordered the dyke of the Yellow River near the city to be blown up.

To make sure the invaders were caught by surprise, no warning was given to local people. The Japanese were swamped in a flood that eventually covered 21,000 square miles, and it is estimated that the ploy delayed their advance by up to three months. Unfortunately it also killed up to 900,000 Chinese civilians, making this the deadliest man-made flood in history.

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