Sweden continues to count cost of tsunami

It looks like being a long time before Sweden will know the true cost of the tsunami disaster in south east Asia - both in human terms and financial terms.

The list of dead and missing being maintained by the National Criminal Investigation Department currently stands at 550. 215 of those are confirmed dead.

The list was reduced by two during the week. A 48 year old man has been in contact with his sister, who reported him missing following the catastrophe on the 26th December. The man is resident in south east Asia and was thought to be in Thailand at the time. It turned out that he was in Malaysia and didn’t realise he was on the missing list.

The case of the second individual to be struck of the list has been handed over to Polish authorities.

Meanwhile, counting the financial cost of the disaster to Sweden promises to be a similarly painstaking process. Currently, there’s no comprehensive, national account of the extra costs incurred by the state or by business.

Various police agencies have born a significant burden. This has included managing the list of dead and missing and taking delivery of coffins at Arlanda airport. So far their extra costs are estimated at 30 million crowns. Dealing with the tsunami has also had an impact on other areas of police work. Ann-Sofie Löth, director of finance at the National Police Agency, told TT:

“We’re postponing a number of projects in order to support our colleagues at the National Criminal Investigation Department.”

Some county councils have been calculating their own financial costs. Stockholm’s county council reckons they have spent 19 million crowns as a result of the disaster. A large proportion of this has been incurred by the health service.

In the private sector, travel companies have been particularly hard hit. The three largest have demanded 55 million crowns in compensation from the government. This, however, only represents a fraction of their losses, as Lottie Knutsson of Fritidsresor explained:

“We’ve lost 120 million crowns in total and we’ll never get all that money back. But we’ve asked the government for 25 million crowns for the evacuation flights we provided.”

In an new development, Sweden’s National Board of Forensic Medicine (NBFM) has agreed to assist the Identification Commission in Thailand by carrying out DNA tests.

“We welcome the opportunity to participate in this project and can start immediately.”

In all about 15,000 tests need to be processed. Sweden can initially help with 500-600, with South Korea, USA and Australia also being invited to help out. The request has come following problems with tests originally carried out by a Chinese company.

The NBFM’s staff of 23 in Linköping usually work on paternity tests and will receive help from colleagues at the National Crime Laboratory if necessary.

Sources: TT, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter