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Tsunami disaster « Previous | |Next »
December 28, 2004

I've been out of action and decoupled from the news for the last couple of days because of the Xmas thing. I've only just caught the news about the natural disaster in south East Asia.

A magnitude 9 earthquake, caused by a slippage in the earth's plates, struck off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra early Sunday. It then unleashed waves (tsunami's) up to 10 metres high that roared across the Bay of Bengal at 800kph, ripping into Thailand in an hour and striking Sri Lanka and India within two and a half hours. The waves raced 4,500 km to Africa, killing hundreds of people in Somalia and three in the Seychelles.

The tsunami crashes through houses at Maddampegama, Sri Lanka, AP

Marina beach in Madras, AFP

Thousands of kilometres of coastline from Indonesia to Somalia were battered by Sunday's deadly waves. Australia escaped.

Current estimates are that the carnage from both the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami will be more than 24,000 dead. The Indonesian Government is estimating that up to 25,000 people on Sumatra island alone have been killed, with most of the deaths in Indonesia in the Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra Island. In Sri Lanka the toll is above 18,000; 10,000 in India and 2000 in Thailand.

Uncovered bloated and bruised bodies are everwhere in the midday sun. A lot of fishing villages have been wiped out, along with the means for earning a livelihood. It is a human tragedy.

In philosophy I01 these natural disasters are called "acts of God" rather than the awful power of Mother Nature. What the university lecturers were trying to get at is that there is no moral responsibility for this kind of evil (human tragedy), as it is not caused by human beings.Though it may create problesm for those who believe in an interventionist God.The moral finger can be pointed at the failure to establish a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean.

Update: 30 Dec.
One eyewitness account of the tsunami that has left millions homeless in countries from south-east Asia to Africa.

Mass graves are being dug. Bodies burned.

AP, Volunteers cremate bodies recovered from the debris in Nagapattinam, India

Many bodies are so bloated and fly-blown that it is impossible to tell even their sex. The stench of decomposing bodies fills the air as hungry people scavenge to find food and fresh water.

The danger is that waterborne diseases, such as cholera, could kill a lot more people due to contaminated water and food. Cholera is endemic in Sri Lanka and southern India, two of the countries worst hit by the tsunami. The bacterium is likely to be present in mangrove swamps. Outbreaks often follow flooding, when the bacterium can contaminate supplies of drinking water.

The death toll keeps climbing rapidly.The final death toll in the Indonesian province of Aceh, which bore the brunt of the Indian Ocean tsunami, could be as high as 80,000. The death toll could exceed 100,000.

This is shaping to be a major natural disaster and a human catastrophe.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:41 PM | | Comments (0)