[lit-ideas] Re: Tsunami

  • From: JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 15:58:29 EST

Re. the lack of warning, seems there'll be a bit of a ruckus over  this:
<< Warning rejected to protect tourism 
Published on December 28, 2004  
Minutes after the earthquake hit northern Sumatra at 7.58am on Sunday,  
officials of the Meteo-rological Department, who were at a seminar in Cha-am,  
convened an emergency meeting chaired by Supharerk Tansrirat-tanawong,  
They had just learned that the Bangkok office had reported a quake measuring  
at 8.1 on the Richter scale, which was much lower than the  
level officially recorded later.  
â??We didnâ??t think there would be subsequent seismic waves, because a similar 
quake of 7.6 on the Richter scale, which hit Sumatra on November 2, 2002, did 
 not affect Thailand,â?? said a member of the department who asked not to be 
Moreover, the quake this time hit west of Sumatra and officials thought the  
island might offer a natural shelter, preventing any waves from breaking 
towards  Phuket and its vicinity, he said.  
With slightly less than one hour before the waves came ashore, Supharerk  
said, the department officials did not expect a tsunami. There are just four  
people on the departmentâ??s 900-person staff who are earthquake experts, he 
Also, a tsunami had not hit Thailand in more than 300 years.  
But sources said they did discuss the likelihood that a tsunami could hit  
Thailandâ??s Andaman Sea coastal towns. This was also played down.  
â??The very important factor in making the decision was that itâ??s high  
[tourist] season and hotel rooms were nearly 100-per-cent full. If we issued a  
warning, which would have led to evacuation, [and if nothing happened], what  
would happen then? Business would be instantaneously affected. It would be  
the Meteorological Departmentâ??s ability to handle. We could go under, if  
[the tsunami] didnâ??t come,â?? said a source who attended the meeting.  
â??We hesitated for a while whether we should issue a warning or not. It was  
discussed but we didnâ??t have a chance to do it.â??  
Supharerk denied that tourism factored into the discussion at the 11th hour.  
â??I think we have done our best,â?? he said.  
Precisely at 9am that Sunday, waves as high as 3 to 10 metres hit the main  
southern coastal provinces of Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Ranong.  
Pravit Rojanaphruk  
The Nation >>
========Original  Message========     Subj: [lit-ideas] Tsunami  Date: 
12/27/04 1:52:37 P.M. Central Standard Time  From: _andreas@xxxxxxxxxxxx 
(mailto:andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx)   To: _lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 
(mailto:lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx)   Sent on:    
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 accessible 
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 happened. 
Otherwise, they would have reported that they had a  minor wave, minor 
flooding, etc. So 
perhaps pay attention to  this.


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