Three Americans died too. That's a news story in itself.
Seriously though, it's understandable. I used to assume that we were the only country that counted out our dead in overseas disaster until I started reading foreign papers that, too, focused on their citizens. Are we going to remember the three year anniversary of this? Fuck no. But do you think that Thai citizens marked 9/11/04? Fuck no.
As disasterous as this earthquake was, it's not going to change our life in the least (As far as I know. I have some friends from Thailand and the company for which my dad works has some assets in Malaysia, but those are just tangential relations).
Likewise, 9/11 did not just signify the death of 3,000+ people, it also begat a sea change in U.S. foreign and domestic policy - the U.S. was now going to focus it's attention on the problem of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism above all. We'd been adrift sense the end of the Cold War. We'd been promoting democracy abroad, but not with nearly the gusto with which we threw ourselves into the fight against communism.
Likewise, for the first time in history, Americans truly felt vulnerable in their own country. It was the opening salvo in the latest undeclared war - an event of historical geopolitical implications.
This is a disaster. People died and that's bad, but this isn't going to lead to a political realignment in Indonesia or a dramatic Thai foreign policy shift. And even if it did, it wouldn't nearly have the global importance of a change in U.S. policy, merely because we're the most powerful nation in the planet. Go to Madrid and see how people care about the train bombing this year compared to the Bali bombing a few years ago. Then see how those two events rank on Australia's scale of importance. It's human nature to care more about those with whom you share some sort of kinship.
Focusing on Leo and Swiss tourists is about as yokelly as you can get and quite embarassing, but I doubt that rural citizens in Uruguay care much more about this than the readers of the Raleigh News and Observer.
“It is a strange paradox that today’s central banks are generally staffed by economists, who by and large profess a belief in a theory which says that their jobs are, at the best, unnecessary, and more likely wealth-destroying. Needless to say, this is not a point widely discussed among respectable economists. Nevertheless, it is an issue worth pondering.”
George Cooper, The Origin of Economic Crises