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For all travellers the new year was tainted by the final events of the old year. A hugely powerful Indian Ocean earthquake resulted in an unfamiliar word entering the global consciousness and dominating the headlines as 2005 began.

A tsunami, (from the Japanese tsu, harbour, and nami, wave), sped across the ocean and inundated coastal areas with devastating force. As I write the death toll is 160,000.

The scale of the disaster has shocked everyone and I'm sure there will be those who frequent this site who may well have lost friends or family. My thoughts and those of all at Palin's Travels are with you, as they are with the families and friends of thousands of others we don't know, but whose lives will never be the same again.

Nothing we can do will turn the clock back and restore life and livelihood to the way it was before the waves struck, but we can do everything possible to alleviate future suffering in the devastated areas.

Many of you have already given to the relief effort and we've set up links with various organisations below. Please don't stop helping, just because the tsunami story is no longer on the front page. We owe it to all of those whose lives have been destroyed, not to forget.

More charity links