World

Tsunami killed many more women than men: Oxfam

Up to 4 times more women than men were killed in the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami, says a new report by aid group Oxfam.

Up to four times more women than men were killed in the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami, says a report by Oxfam that raises concerns over a serious gender imbalance in the worst-hit communities.

The aid organization says the impact of the tragedy will be long-lasting in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, with enormous social problems for years to come because so few women were left behind.

Oxfam's report, due to be officially released Saturday, says up to 80 per cent of the people killed in some villages were women, primarily because men were either working inland or fishing far enough offshore to be safe when the series of waves hit.

It also says men were more likely to be able to swim, climb trees and hold on to poles and building beams when the powerful surge washed over them.

Anecdotal reports from the disaster have indicated that scores of women were swept away because they were holding on to children or lost their grip on trees and poles.

To prepare its report, Oxfam conducted surveys in eight Indonesian villages and found male survivors far outnumbered females.

In one Acehnese village, the group said, four women were killed for every man that perished.

Similar findings were made in India and Sri Lanka.

Oxfam says aid agencies must be aware of the gender imbalance when planning disaster relief operations.

The tsunami killed at least 273,000 people around the Indian Ocean, including at least 12 Canadians who were visiting the region.

with files from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation