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Tsunami disaster #2 « Previous | |Next »
December 30, 2004

Survivors search a photo board of the dead as they hunt for lost family and friends in Velankani beach on the outskirts of Nagapattinam, 350 km south of the southern Indian city of Madras.


Numerous aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or greater have rocked the southeast Asia region since Sunday, with the most recent one, with a magnitude 5.7 struck 75 km (47 miles) west-southwest of Banda Aceh, Indonesia. These are too weak to cause additional tsunamis.

The Washington Post's map of the Indian Ocean region ravaged by the massive undersea earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused by movement amongst the tectonic plates in the Sumatra-Andaman Islands region. An impact map. The devastation in Sumatra recalls Krakatoa.

The death toll from the tsunamis and the earthquake itself may be matched by people in the devastated communities dying from communicable diseases (eg., cholera, typhoid) as from the tsunamis.

Things are not looking good in Aceh province in Indonesia. Relief is in short supply as the aid arriving at the airfield is not being distributed by the Indonesian military and government authorities. Apparently there is a policy policy of keeping all but members of the military out of the strife-torn province. The relief effort and the recovery of bodies, is only clicking into gear three days after the catastrophe struck. So survivors in Aceh face starvation.

A big failure lies with the lack of an equivalent to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which is responsible for tsunami monitoring in the Pacific Basin. No such warning system exists for the Bay of Bengal where the recent disaster occurred. Can the finger be pointed at the Australian Government for this? Should it?


A comment from IRant

Can the finger can be pointed at the Australian government for the lack of a warning system for Thailand, Indonesia, India etc?

"I think it is poor form to implicate the Australian government for lack of a warning system. The impetus and political will for a warning system has to come from the governments within the affected area. Indeed, such a system was proposed but due to the costs and the fact tsunamis are relatively rare occurence in the area compared to the Pacific such an idea was abandoned.

This article has some more info.I have no problem with pointing fingers when it is justified, but in this instance it is totally unwarranted."

Gary's Response

IRant Maybe. Australia could help to kick things long though.We are geographically part of the Indian Ocean,and we have more scientific resources to do this than Indonesia or Bangladesh.We should be good neighbours on issues like this. We are to turned to the Pacific.

Another, more selfish consideration.

At 1.59am on Xmas eve there was an earthquake measuring 8.1 in the sea north of Macquarie Island. It was one of the bigger earthquakes in the past 100 years and it could have triggered a tsunami, if the tectonic plates had collided rather than slipped past each other. If they had collided we could have kissed Kangaroo Island and the coastal towns along South Australia's southern coast line goodbye. The tsunami would have flooded the western suburbs of Adelaide.

And there would have been no warning.So Australia is cavalier and negligent. The example shows that tsunami's could hit this continent from any direction. Australia needs a tsunami warning system.

That warning system could be linked into one for south east Asia/ the Indian Ocean.

Shaun ((IRant) replies to my response:

"Re you reponse I think Australia has and will be urging the creation of a warning system. Geoscience Australia did issue a report in September last year stating a system should be put in place for the Indian Ocean.

As for your comments re the Macqaurie Island quake, I've emailed
Geoscience Australia as it is a good question. Let you know if I get
a reply. I also found the following discussion from the 7:30 Report on the ABC."

Gary adds that Geoscience Australia is aware of the issues. So is it the federal pollies dragging their heels on this kind of security?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:24 AM | | Comments (0)