Latest reports on the number of dead in South East Asia vary slightly but what is clear is that the numbers involved are huge. According to Sky News, the figure is in excess of 60,000 and rising. CNN has a lower official figure of 33,000 but estimates that the number could reach 60,000 whilst Reuters' estimate is 59,000.
What is unclear at the moment is how exactly the death toll will rise as the more remote areas are taken into account and problems relating to disease, particularly pollution of the water supply begin to take effect. The extent to which the numbers of dead will rise is directly linked to the speed and extent of the response of the international community in providing emergency relief to the area - not allowing Israel to help in these circumstances seems absolutely crazy (thanks Alison).
A colleague of mine called from Phuket immediately to say that he was safe whilst another colleague agonised for 2 1/2 days before a family member was able to get in touch. The scale of the tragedy is hard to comprehend - I just sat watching a game of English football on TV (which started with an impeccably observed minute's silence for the victims), reflecting that 60,000 was larger than the number of fans in the packed stadium.
All Israel's thoughts are with the dead and their families and closer to home, our prayers are that the 188 Israelis along with all the others who are still missing, are found and returned to their loved ones quickly.