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9,3 på Richterskalan by Andreas Norman

It has been ten years since the fatal tsunami struck the cost of Thailand. In ”9,3 på Richterskalan”, Andreas Norman reveals great flaws in utrikesdepartementets, the Ministry of foreign affairs, help efforts. The tone is critical. Norman was a young official in the Ministry's diplomat program 2004, and got his first mission in relation to the catastrophe, without experience and preparation. The officials' telephone numbers were inaccessible during Christmas and Norman was contacted since his name was on a list of people that had been on a previous school class journey.

During his time in Krabi he tries to understand the impossible. Small belongings as bracelets and bus tickets remind him of the fact that these people have recently been alive. The prose is beautiful and colorful, the content dark and horrible. The text transforms into something similar to a movie and one of the most affecting scenes is that when a man comes up and want help with transporting two plastic bags home to Sweden. In the bags are his dead, infant children.

Andreas Norman was in Krabi for a week. He describes a world where people break down from despair and sorrow, and how inadequate he feels. Officials within the Ministry, Räddningsverket and Rädda barnen tried to remain professional and objective. That was easier said then done. Some of them broke and was sent home.

Norman witnessed a Ministry that was waiting, not reacting, in the beginning of the crisis. They opposed proposals about help efforts. The management is mapped out and the result isn't pretty. It's an uncomfortable and unforgettable read. UD is described as a Ministry with a byreaucracy and hierarchy that complicated, delayed and almost prevented its purpose. No one was prepared for the catastrophe, but according to Norman, the Ministry was nearly paralyzed, almost incapable of acting. Lower officials reacted, but the Office culture, with its ideal of self control, prevented early moves.

One has to remember that this is one man's story. One man that was situated in the middle of the catastrophe. On the other hand, this is an important testimony - for the same reason. It is an account of someone that was in the actual place, and was a part of the practical work. This story isn't polished as the Ministry's formal statements, this is the catastrophe, experienced by a help worker.

When Norman went home after a week he wasn't sure about how to return to his normal life. He had changed. It was a strange feeling to disappear into his every day life again. He had got a glimpse of the life of unfortunate people. For them the loss is constantly present, regardless of what day of the year it is. This book isn't letting go of the reader when finished. It stays with you and reminds you of the people that died that day and their relatives.

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