Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami By sophia cullinan

The Earthquake

On December 26, 2004, the India tectonic plate slide under the Burma plate along the seduction fault line. The shift occured in two phases over a span of several minutes. Seismographic evidence indicate that the earthquake measured a 9.1 on the rictor scale, making it the largest earthquake in 40 years.

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The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Simeulue island. As the earthquake hit, massive, displaced waves thundered towards Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and other countries.

"Of all the seismic moment released by earthquakes in the 100 years from 1906 through 2005, roughly one-eighth arose as a result of the Sumatra-Andaman event."

The Tsunami

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Over the next seven hours following the earthquake, massive tidal waves reaching up to 30 feet tall reached across the Indian Ocean. Areas as far as East Africa were hit by the devestating waves. Most of the affected countries had little to no seismic detection technology, meaning citizens had no time to flee the area before the waves struck.

Across a dozen countries, the tsunami killed at least 225,000 people. Indonesia was hit especially hard, with some officials estimating the death toll to be 200,000. Tens of thousands were also reported missing or dead in India and Sri Lanka.

Nazaruddin's Story

"At that time I could never have imagined the tsunami. But minutes later I saw the water coming towards us, it was washing up houses and gathering speed. I grabbed my son and my wife and we ran." -Nazaruddin Musa

Nazaruddin was fishing at a local village when he first felt the earthquake. Though he did not think much of it, he decided to drive around the city to look at any damage. Just minutes later, he saw the fist massive wave coming towards him and his wife. The two of them barely escaped the waves before fleeing to a two story building. He picked up a scrambling young girls before bolting inside. As the second wave hit, Nazaruddin recalls how the water effortlessly swept away everything in its path.

The Horrors of the Indian Ocean Tsunami

First Responders

After the tsunami, many roads connecting remote areas were destroyed. First responders struggled to deliever supplies to those in these rural or war stricken areas. A lack of clean water, food, and medical attention added to the death toll. This is extremely devestating because so many first responders that could have saved hundreds of lives were unable to even get to those in danger.

Environment/ Economy

The long term environmental effects were just as severe and devestating. The salt water that flooded many farms and fishing grounds destroyed plants and crops. Tourist resorts and villages were also demolished or littered with debris and dead bodies. Effected countries were forced to pay major reconstruction costs to rebuild industries and means of communication (ex. bridges).

Possible Prevention

Today, new warning system technology allows citizens living in high risk areas to know about approaching tsunamis, giving them an opportunity to flee the area. Many countries affected by the Indian tsunami are developing countries, meaning they cannot afford to spend much money on prevention technology. With better warning systems, hundreds if not thousands of lives could have been saved.

Social Impacts Overview

  • At least 200,000 people dead
  • 1.7 million people homeless
  • 5-6 million people in need of emergency aid
  • Possible disease from mixing salt/fresh water with sewage
  • Familes torn apart by death or displacement

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