It has been just over a month since the tragic earthquake that rocked the people of South East Asia into shock on December 26.

The number of people that lost their lives due to the tsunami is colossal and is still rising. Today, the Health Minister of Indonesia has raises the death toll to a staggering 280,000 throughout the region.

The number of people that lost their lives due to the tsunami is colossal and is still rising. Today, the Health Minister of Indonesia has raises the death toll to a staggering 280,000 throughout the region.

But daily life is slowly returning, Fishermen in India are returning to the sea and Indonesian province schools are set to reopen on Wednesday.

While no one can dispute the extensive human cost of the tsunami, it is unclear as to the economic cost. There are hundreds of Industrial gas companies located in South East Asia and with the vast number of these companies being relatively small it is hard to calculate the true extent of the damages incurred.

It does seem that the larger tier one gas companies have been fortunate and escaped structural, financial and human losses. Many of them own facilities in South East Asia or have stakes in locally owned companies. BOC for example, are present in India, The Soloman Islands, Indonesia and Thailand.

Bande Aceh south overview, before ///Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe

Bande Aceh south overview, after///Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe

On January 7, Air Products extended their deepest sympathies to those affected by the tsunami and announced that they would be donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. Their joint venture partners in Asia also pledged cash donations to local relief agencies.

Air products have nearly 4,500 employees throughout Asia but luckily none of their staff members were directly impacted by the disaster. They also reported that no structural damage had occurred to their facilities.

Chairman and CEO of Air products had this message. \\$quot;We are deeply saddened by the disaster that has devastated so many individuals and families in South East Asia. A tragedy of this magnitude affects all of us regardless of where we are in the world. In the weeks and months ahead, the Air Products family will continue to reach out wherever we possibly can to help rebuild lives and restore communities at this significant time of need.\\$quot;

BOC, like many large organisations and businesses across the globe, have been raising money for the much needed and extensive relief work that needs to be carried out to repair the damage done by the Tsunami. We contacted BOC who released this statement from their chief executive Tony Issac:

\\$quot;While thankfully no BOC employees or their immediate families lost their lives, many BOC people in the region have relatives, friends or neighbours who have suffered loss. Our thoughts remain with them.

Businesses in and near to the devastated areas were among the first to respond, making cash donations as well as giving practical help where possible, such as medical oxygen in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
Employees from all the Asian and South Pacific countries have made personal donations running into tens of thousands of dollars. In the UK, employees donated nearly £15,000 in only the first two days after their return from the seasonal holidays and similar generosity is being seen in North America, South Africa and elsewhere in Europe. All donations are being matched by BOC in line with local matched giving programmes.

It will be some time before the full extent of BOC's financial help can be assessed. In the meantime we will continue to see where we can make a difference and provide help where we can - Gist, for instance, has allocated warehouse space at its international warehouse in Hemel Hempstead to help with shipping aid from the UK.

The Linde Group also did their bit by helping the victims of the tsunami disaster with extensive support measures. In Thailand, they supplied free medical gases for the treatment of casualties to hospitals. Linde also provided the logistics equipment to the organisation 'Aviation without Frontiers' in Germany, for the transportation of aid supplies to the disaster areas. A charity gala was also broadcast on German television called 'We want to help - A heart for Children' to which Linde donated $350,000 US dollars.

Both Praxar and Air Liquide also managed to keep out of the Tsunami's reach.

Praxair's Communications officer, Susan Szita-gore said they offering support, \\$quot;Praxair does not have business in Indonesia, but we do have businesses in Thailand and India. In neither case did the business suffer any direct impact from the tsunami. Our businesses in both countries are offering assistance to relief efforts.\\$quot;

And Air Liquide's Communications Officer Joelle Ambon, reported no operational or personnel losses, \\$quot;We have operations in Indonesia but not in Sumatra Island, in Thailand but not along the southern coast and we are not present in Sri Lanka. As far as our employees are concerned, we are pleased to report that none has been directly impacted by the tsunami. We have however expressed our deepest sympathy to our local teams. There were no damages to our operations which are not located in the impacted regions.\\$quot;

Other Companies like Yara have had a direct hand in the recovery of affected areas. Yara is the sole supplier of Medical gas to Sri Lanka. They are the parent company of Ceylon Oxygen Limited (COL) and on a normal day, they operate a 14-hour day and the gas is collected by the hospitals. Since the tragic event, the company operated around the clock, hired delivery vehicles, prioritising medical supply over industrial supplies. The island has about 100 Government hospitals and with the help of the department of health, 20 were maintained on high priority for quantity and frequency of supply.

Gasworld spoke with Narsimha Rao, Managing Director of COL, who visited the affected areas of Sri Lanka last week to see what the status was after one month.

On the state of recovery for the area, Narsimha said, \\$quot;The current situation is life has come back to normalcy except for those who have got directly affected. There are still a lot of people in camps. Debris clearing is going on well. As for the reconstruction plans things are mainly in the hands of Government. Lots of plans are being drawn. A few private organisations have launched various donation schemes like giving new boats to fishermen, adopting children for their education and future lives.\\$quot;

With regards to COL's direct role in the tsunami recovery operation Narsimha added,\\$quot;As far as our role as a major supplier of Industrial Gases and almost as sole supplier of Medical gases there was a rush for about 10 days. After the 5th of January things are back to normal for us. The main reason being is that fortunately no epidemic has broken out and the health and environment situation is absolutely under control.

As for as infrastructure rebuilding is concerned we can expect some additional demand in the industrial gas business as the plans unfold.

In terms of cost in supporting the medical sector for the initial 10 days, which we have supported free of cost, ran to about 2 million Sri Lankan rupees. This included extra product supplies to around 20 affected hospitals and extra production and operational costs like transportation.

We are now in the process of making some rebuilding contributions but we need to choose the options that genuinely meet the assistance of the most needy.\\$quot;

It is good to know that in times of need, the industry giants do their bit to help the less fortunate. Corporate social responsibility is important and it is nice to see that it is upheld within the industrial gas world.