Coast mourns


THE enormity of the deadly Asian tsunami disaster has washed a state of depression over the Gold Coast community with traumatised people inundating counselling services.

Lifeline Gold Coast manager of counselling Pam Mason said intense loss and grief had stretched far beyond family and friends of the missing as heart-wrenching images of bundles of corpses and seaside huts smashed to smithereens took their toll on many.

"What we are finding is these television images trigger previous incidents people themselves might have been through some time in their life, such as war or cyclones," Ms Mason said.

"People feel the feelings of the people it has directly affected and some people have to turn the television off because the events are upsetting them on a deep level."

She said in addition to anger and frustration now emerging from the disaster, fear of a tsunami decimating a vast swathe of the Australian coastline had started to take hold.

"These feelings are natural and normal ? the level of distress indicates we do really care for other people," Ms Mason said.

She said Lifeline counsellors nationally were well-prepared to tackle the emotional aftershocks of the crisis and were ready to talk on 131?114, with the helpline backed by face-to-face counselling.

With the death toll standing at a staggering 150,000 people, insurmountable odds face survivors struggling to fend off disease and rebuild their lives in devastated areas including Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

Gold Coast residents have opened their hearts and pockets to add to the swelling international aid pool, with New Year's Eve revellers alone donating $14,000 to the Red Cross.

The Gold Coast City Council is also expected to contribute $50,000 to the relief effort.

An appeal launched by the publisher of the Gold Coast Mail, APN News and Media, aims to reach its $1 million target tomorrow through support from readers and advertisers across Australia and New Zealand. Call 136?181 between 10am and 3pm to make a donation.

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