Monday, March 22, 2010

2004 Tsunami Tragedy

The earthquake that generated the great Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
Giant forces that had been building up deep in the Earth for hundreds of years were released suddenly on December 26, shaking the ground violently and unleashing a series of killer waves that sped across the Indian Ocean at the speed of a jet airliner.
By the end of the day more than 150,000 people were dead or missing and millions more were homeless in 11 countries, making it perhaps the most destructive tsunami in history.
The epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude quake was under the Indian Ocean near the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, according to the USGS, which monitors earthquakes worldwide. The violent movement of sections of the Earth's crust, known as tectonic plates, displaced an enormous amount of water, sending powerful shock waves in every direction.
The earthquake was the result of the sliding of the portion of the Earth's crust known as the India plate under the section called the Burma plate. The process has been going on for millennia, one plate pushing against the other until something has to give. The result on December 26 was a rupture the USGS estimates was more than 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) long, displacing the seafloor above the rupture by perhaps 10 yards (about 10 meters) horizontally and several yards vertically. That doesn't sound like much, but the trillions of tons of rock that were moved along hundreds of miles caused the planet to shudder with the largest magnitude earthquake in 40 years.
Above the disturbed seafloor the great volume of the ocean was displaced along the line of the rupture, creating one of nature's most deadly phenomena: a tsunami. Within hours killer waves radiating from the earthquake zone slammed into the coastline of 11 Indian Ocean countries, snatching people out to sea, drowning others in their homes or on beaches, and demolishing property from Africa to Thailand.

Country affected
India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand


Sounds of victims
One of the hardest hit areas was Banda Aceh in Indonesia, where about 150,000 people died. Residents held religious gatherings and a moment of silence to pay tribute to victims of a disaster triggered by an undersea earthquake off the island of Sumatra.

the Indonesian vice president, Boediono, offered a prayer at a mass grave site of the tsunami victims. Residents left flowers at the site and read prayers from small books. A few wept as they sat in the shade to escape the heat.
"We are only human," said a woman who lost her teenage children and several nieces in the tsunami. "We'll never really forget."
The woman said the pain and the fears lives on long after the tremors are gone.
"We still feel the trauma," she said. "And when there is another earthquake, all we can do is run and pray."

In Thailand, few physical reminders of the disaster remain. The tourist industry was keen to clean up in islands such as Koh Phi Phi, where the powerful waves ripped through. Today, the thumping music and jolly backpackers give the island the party atmosphere -- a far cry from the disaster that left scores dead in beaches bustling with tourists.