[lit-ideas] Tsunami

  • From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 11:09:14 -0800

Several items about the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

1) I was working at my computer on Christmas afternoon, preparing for a 
certification exam, 
and I saw on SE Asian websites the news item about the earthquake. I also 
noticed that for 
at least six hours, none of the American media mentioned it.

2) When the earthquake happened, I immediately thought this would cause a 
tsunami. I live on 
the coast of California, where earthquakes are a daily occurance (see for 
example the daily 
report at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/recenteqsUS/Maps/US10/32.42.-125.-115.html 
, which 
shows some 260 local earthquakes for the last week, plus the 1.4 from this 
morning). But 
there were no reports or warnings about a tsunami in Southeast Asia.

3) The tsunami came ashore about 8-9 in the morning local time (about 2.5 hrs 
after the 
earthquake.) Many tourists were on the beach.

4) No warning had been given. The public health authorities, the government, 
etc., did not 
warn people about the tsunami. There was at least 2.5 hrs of time, but nobody 
was warned.

5) Therefore, this is two disasters: 1) the tsunami and 2) the catastrophic 
failure to warn 
people. More than 22,000 died. With 2.5 hrs of warning, many of those could 
have survived.

6) Because there were lots of tourists on the beaches cavorting around, there 
are plenty of 
videos of the tsunami. See for example 
http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml , which has publicly 
video (no fees, no pay).

7) I had always thought that a tsunami would be a large wave. Perhaps because 
of Hokusai's 
painting The Great Wave (see for example www.andreas.com/hokusai.html ). 
Hollywood disaster 
movies also include giant waves crashing ashore. However, watching the videos, 
you see that 
the English name, tidal wave, is more descriptive: the sea literally begins to 
rise, as if 
the tide is coming in. There's no wave, not even a wavelet. The best name would 
be "tidal 
surge", but nobody would name a painting or a disaster movie after that. The 
sea rises 
extremely fast (people are suddenly in water that is 15-20 feet deep) and then 
recedes very 
fast, sweeping many people far out to sea.

8) So what happened on Diego Garcia? This is a semi-secret US military base, 
smack in the 
middle of the Indian Ocean. It is only a few feet above sea level. Diego Garcia 
is extremely 
critical to US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the tsunami was 
15-20 feet 
high and it swept the entire Indian Ocean, then Diego Garcia must have been 
affected. Yet 
there is precisely zero in all media about anything on Diego Garcia. The 
official website 
http://www.dg.navy.mil/ says nothing. Which leads one to suspect that something 
Otherwise, they would have reported that they had a minor wave, minor flooding, 
etc. So 
perhaps pay attention to this.


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