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Australia’s U.S. Ambassador Apologizes Over ‘Insensitive’ Tweet on Kerala Floods

Joe Hockey, the Australian ambassador to the United States of America

Australian ambassador to the United States, Joe Hockey, has apologized after been facing flak over his “insensitive” tweet about Kerala floods.

Replying to a tweet posted by an Indian person living in Australia, Hockey wrote on the social media platform, “If you saw my tweet as insensitive I obviously apologize and have removed it.”

Earlier this week, the envoy was criticized all across the world after he shared a video of a news report about the incessant rain in the Indian state, with the comment, “Please send to Australia – rain welcome party will be arranged.”

Over 100 people have died in the Indian state over the last 10 days, after heavy rains lashed down in the region in what is being called the worst natural disaster that Kerala has witnessed in a century.

Hockey’s tweet, which has since been removed, was made in an attempt to make a joke about Australia’s drought crisis. It wasn’t, however, taken kindly by Twitter users. The remark posted by Hockey, 53, put him in the eye of a storm, with Twitter users calling him “jerk’ and “out of touch.”

“Really Ambassador @JoeHockey? When scores of people have died? On the anniversary of India’s independence? And at the same time your government and India want deeper ties?” Prasanna Kovalam tweeted.

Another user, Terry Dwyer, said: “You should give a little more thought before commenting on a disaster. Try to imagine how you would feel if your family was caught in it.”

Steve Exon simply said: “75 dead Joe. Foolish comment.”

Later, Hockey deleted the post, and published another tweet, sharing his concerns about the various natural disasters around the world, and sending prayers to all those who have been coping with the rage of “angry mother nature.”

The situation in Kerala continues to be grim, with more rainfall predicted to occur this week. Huge swaths of land remain submerged in water, and the airport at Kochi has been closed until Aug. 26. Rescue teams from the defense forces have been deployed to evacuate stranded people. Road transportation and train services have been halted, and drinking water supply has been hit at many places.

The tweet about Kerala was, however, not the first time Hockey got mired in a controversy on the social media platform. His elevator selfies in the United States have earlier invited a number of raised eyebrows.

Last year, a tweet in which Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was called a “cranky prick,” was liked by his account, an act he blamed on hackers, after it drew much attention.