The tsunami killed roughly 200,000 people. If the average age of victims was 20, the number of life-years lost averaged perhaps 50 years, for a total of 10 million life-years lost. In addition, perhaps 2 million are homeless, injured, or have dead family members, affecting them to an extent of, say, 3 life-years, for a total of about 6 million life-years.
Human News aims to devote 1 character to each 40,000 life-years, or 1000 average lives. Thus, this story can have about 16 million / 40,000 = 400 characters.