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South Asian Tsunamis
December 26, 2004 1:43 AM   Subscribe

A massive earthquake - the largest since 1964 - centred off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra has caused tidal waves that are devastating coastal areas around the Indian Ocean including Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia.

Eyewitness report from the south coast of Sri Lanka. The death tolls are still rising, there is the risk of further tsunamis and it is being estimated that 100,000s of people will be left homeless.
posted by i_cola (193 comments total)

 
As an aside, I have family in Sri Lanka and a cousin who is uncontactable on the SE coast of Sri Lanka (Arugam Bay, which will be known to any surfers). Any MeFi help in finding info, like we've done for the Bali bomb, 9/11 etc., would be very welcome.
posted by i_cola at 1:49 AM on December 26, 2004


that's a huge earthquake. i don't have more info - sorry. hope your family are ok.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:10 AM on December 26, 2004


Over here in Shanghai, we're also worrying about some acquaintances who were out diving in Phuket. Mother nature is one cruel bitch.

Does anybody know when the waves hit Sri Lanka and India? The earthquake hit at 00:59 UTC, but the waves would've had to travel over 2000Km to get there.
posted by Jongo at 2:18 AM on December 26, 2004


I think it was around 1000 GMT which would be 0500 Sri Lankan time.
posted by i_cola at 2:30 AM on December 26, 2004


550. 1,500. 2,200. 3,000. It's getting worse by the minute.

My condolences to those who have lost loved ones. Truly a tragic event.
posted by rooftop secrets at 2:41 AM on December 26, 2004


Sorry, that's totally wrong.
posted by i_cola at 2:44 AM on December 26, 2004


My God. That is absolutely horrible. My thoughts to the departed, and the homeless, and your family, i_cola, and the families of any other MeFites who may be affected.

By the way, this is the one-year anniversary of the tragic Bam earthquake.

A sad day. I am sorry.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:10 AM on December 26, 2004


incidentally, i was talking about earthquakes and tsunamis last week with a geologist friend (who models earthquakes) and he said that they are often (usually?) not like you see in the movies (huge wall of water), but more like a "surge" - like the sea coming in (very) quickly, and not stopping - and that as much damage is done in the backflow as in the initial rise. that seems to have been the case here, reading the accounts.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:10 AM on December 26, 2004


Here's a time conversion table for when the earthquake occurred (around 0100 GMT).

This is tragic. Wishing the best possible outcome for your friends and family, i_cola, Jongo, and everyone affected. I don't have any words.
posted by taz at 3:13 AM on December 26, 2004


(oh, maybe not. other reports mention something more like waves).
posted by andrew cooke at 3:14 AM on December 26, 2004


Mother nature is maybe one cruel bitch Jongo, but it might just be retaliatation. I recently had a tough discussions with that subject : could global warming also induce increase of earthquake?.
While finding few infos on the web saying so, I'm still very doubtful on that subject.
Any MeFi having hints on the subject?
posted by denpo at 3:14 AM on December 26, 2004


...que?
posted by Jongo at 3:24 AM on December 26, 2004


According to this Wikipedia article, the maximum speed of a Tsunami can be 700 Km/h, which would have meant the wave would've taken at least 3 hours. The BBC's phone-in experts have been saying that they traveled at 'several hundred kilometres per hour', which means it probably took a lot longer. Any fluid mecahnics experts out there?
posted by Jongo at 3:28 AM on December 26, 2004


no, denpo, they're completely unrelated. earthquakes are due to tectonic movement (if you trace things back, it's basically energy from radioactive decay and what's left from the initial heat when the planet formed).
also "retaliation" is intentional - it applies some kind of consciousness. "nature" is not conscious and doesn't take revenge or make moral decisions. it also carries the offensive implication that these deaths were therefore "deserved" in some way.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:33 AM on December 26, 2004


Thanks, Andrew. I think you managed to locate what it was that offended me in that statement. Perhaps I should clarify my statement as a mere utterance of frustration. It wasn't meant to carry any meaning.
posted by Jongo at 3:40 AM on December 26, 2004


Some believe that glacial melting in some places with seismic activity (like Alaska) may make the situation more unstable, but presumably this would have nothing to do with earthquakes in areas without glaciers.
posted by taz at 4:01 AM on December 26, 2004


Don't anthropormophise nature. She doesn't like it.
posted by hardcode at 4:02 AM on December 26, 2004


In Southern California there's a running joke about 'earthquake weather', as it sure seems like the noticable quakes only happen when it's blazing hot.

To say that this heat has zero effect on plate tectonics is to fail to think - at least momentarily - outside of a closed system or model.

However, to say that this heat has any appreciable effect on plate tectonics is to fail to understand plate tectonics. Probably. Like almost everything, it's a complex and dynamic system. That's the only reason why I say "Probably".

The gravitational pull of both the Sun and Moon have much more effect on our magma mantle than any localized or global heating. It's a hell of a lot hotter from a mile down to all the way to the core than it is on the surface.

But it sure seems like all the big quakes around here happen when it's hot. It seems so much like that this is true I actually think about earthquakes less during the winter months, however misguided that is.

Relax, folks. Denpo's comment is innocent, though naive. He's just misapplying a distorted form of the Gaia hypothesis. It's not any more erroneous than attributing the deaths from this quake/tsunami to a vengeful god. It's merely a mechanism invoked to attempt to understand and cope.
posted by loquacious at 4:07 AM on December 26, 2004


It's not any more erroneous than attributing the deaths from this quake/tsunami to a vengeful god.

Which would also be rather erroneous. I agree that denpo's comment wasn't malicious, but it was poorly worded and more than a little misguided. Not to mention poorly formatted.
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:16 AM on December 26, 2004


.
posted by moonbird at 4:18 AM on December 26, 2004


I found out about this by getting an email from my best friend on honeymoon, basically saying "tell our families we're ok." I get this confused look, check the news, everything makes sense.

He apparently missed the tidal wave by one hour. The hotel he had been staying at? Gone.

I suspect death tolls are going to increase substantially.
posted by effugas at 4:22 AM on December 26, 2004


(i was trying to be pretty neutral on the "moral" front) both tectonics and global warming are related by temperature - you might think that global warming would reduce the rate of cooling of the earth's core. however, my intuition (i haven't done the maths) is that the two are completely different scales. earthquakes are related to a huge amount of energy stored deep inside the earth, and processes generally over "geological" timescales, while global warming is due to changes in a much smaller amount of energy over shorter times. the same argument applies to "earthquake weather" (there's no such expression here in chile that i'm aware of).
i don't know if that seems too vague to make such definite judegements - it's the kind of intuition of magnitudes and connections you get from studying physics and it assumes certain causal connections. i hadn't thought of the process taz mentioned, for example.
also, the causal connection might not be what you think. maybe the position of the earth relative to the sun in summer places more stresses on the faults in california (via gravitational "tidal" forces, say) - then you'd expect a correlation between temperature and activity, even though one isn't causing the other.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:24 AM on December 26, 2004


We've got two sets of close friends on vacation in Phuket (Thailand) currently, so I've been constantly checking and reloading the various new sites. A quote on the BBC site caught my attention, due to the name of the author: "Kareemoff Sumyun Gy, Jakarta" Hmm, perhaps the editors at BBC aren't familiar with Wayne's World? (The page this pull-quote was on, however I think it chooses random quotes, so it may or may not still be there.)
posted by shawnmk at 4:46 AM on December 26, 2004


Phuket newsfeed.
posted by the cuban at 4:53 AM on December 26, 2004


Please guys, don't get me wrong, this was not my intent. I feel very sad for all the people who died there.
I also think that, since temperature scales are so different, the two are unlikely to be related. But I keep on hearing this "earth/god/Gaya revenge" theory quiet often. I do think we're going to have some weather crap in the coming years (and we'll deserve it someway), but mixing it with earthquakes is just a way to ridicule what is the biggest humanity's issue.
I'm also sorry for my engrish, I try to do my best, but it's not my mother tongue.
posted by denpo at 4:57 AM on December 26, 2004


(your english is fine! :o)
posted by andrew cooke at 5:00 AM on December 26, 2004


[this is bad]
posted by Mikey-San at 5:14 AM on December 26, 2004


During quake times it's good to keep USGS Recent Earthquake map link handy. The guys are among the first to post ( I guess it's automatical) info on new quakes.

On a tangent: god bless noprofit scientific govt sites.
posted by elpapacito at 5:17 AM on December 26, 2004


IRIS has a better map for showing the scale and number of quakes.
posted by quirked at 5:27 AM on December 26, 2004


I keep this USGS link for SoCal handy. You can almost tell how big the quake was by the response time of the page.

This is terrible. And please forgive me. I don't mean to be flippant about this. I channel my very real fear and healthy fascination with quakes into geekery.
posted by loquacious at 5:30 AM on December 26, 2004


1000 dead in India, mostly in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on the east coast of India.
posted by riffola at 5:41 AM on December 26, 2004


That IRIS link is very good thanks quirked
posted by elpapacito at 5:45 AM on December 26, 2004


Many of the news reports indicate people had no idea this was coming.

From page 16 of the ITSU Master Plan found deep inside the International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC) site:

The present system of warning centers has gaps in its coverage. Southeast Asia, the southwest Pacific, and Central and South America have no regional tsunami warning centers. Yet these areas are extremely vulnerable. They are adjacent to some of the most active and tsunamigenic seismic zones, and have been struck by fourteen of the eighteen most recent destructive local tsunamis ...
posted by quirked at 6:02 AM on December 26, 2004


Thank you for that IRIS link quirked.

Death toll up to 4000 it seems, and I guess it will be a constantly increasing count for a while.

My thoughts are with all the victims and of course the families and friends of any Mefi members that were caught in this tragedy.
posted by oneiros at 6:05 AM on December 26, 2004


According to this article, the quake may have been triggered by this 8.1 quake off the Maquarie Islands that went virtually unnoticed.
posted by taz at 6:27 AM on December 26, 2004


Even if you know a tsunami is coming, how long does that give you to evacuate?
Also, richer countries can mandate the building of earthquake resistant buildings, but is there any type of construction that would protect you from a tidal wave if you happen to be at sea level?
posted by MrMulan at 6:33 AM on December 26, 2004


A family friend of ours was swimming in the sea at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu about half an hour before the tidal waves hit. He is fine, I just spoke with him, but that's a pretty close call!

One really horrific tale from Madras as reported on BBC is, people swimming in swimming pools by the sea shore in Madras were crushed to death by the force of the water.

Death tolls in India have risen to 1,800. Sri Lanka is saying over a million people are affected by this, over and above the deaths.
posted by riffola at 6:46 AM on December 26, 2004


MrMulan: Depends on the wave. The problem, of course, is water is very dense. If you have a 20' wall of water sweep into a building moving at 100mph, the kinetic energy is enormous.

Worse, though (as mention before) is the backflow. The water flows in, pushing everything inland. Then, it flows back. It's lost most of the energy it had, but not all -- and everything that's been pushed over by the initial wave gets undercut by the backflow and falls over.

How long you have? Sometimes, hours. 700km/hr is fast -- but when an tsunami trigger is 2100 miles away, that's three hours. The trick -- get above wave height. If you're looking at a 20' surge, and you're 30' about current sea level, you'll be okay. (As long as your standing on land. If you 50' above sea level, in a building at sea level, it's time to be elsewhere.)

But there can be little warning. Same tsunami, trigger 100km offshore. It takes time to integrate the measurements from around the glob and get the warning out -- about 10 minutes. Alas, 100/700 < 10, so when the warning goes out, the wave has already struck.

Then again, if the trigger for a large wave is only 100km off shore, it's likely that the earthquake was distracting you.
posted by eriko at 6:52 AM on December 26, 2004


2498 dead in Sri Lanka.
posted by riffola at 6:56 AM on December 26, 2004


Anyone that believes in evolution is a believer in the concept of antropomorphoization of consciousness in humans through our interactions with nature.

just to save you a dictionary run: antro... = "To ascribe human characteristics to things not human."

Consciousness is, IMHO, nothing more (or less) than the ability to be sufficiently aware of one's surroundings and act upon an awareness that is the greater than the sum of its parts.

Good luck to the survivors in this latest episode. I woke this morning (After a solid bout with a Christmas stomach flu) to smell my laptop overheating, and thought my own life was pretty much destroyed (my laptop is one of my last physical possessions and contains the last few years of my work and drafts of my argument).

Thank you for the shock of perspective.
posted by wah at 6:58 AM on December 26, 2004


Jesus, wah, you're like Cliff Clavin or something, except his information is more reliable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:10 AM on December 26, 2004


wah - if you've got 2 years worth of work on a laptop, shouldn't you be saving to cd or something?
posted by the cuban at 7:18 AM on December 26, 2004


this is awful--i hope people (and everyone's friends and family) got to higher ground in time.
posted by amberglow at 7:24 AM on December 26, 2004


wow. another example of how our existence on this planet is so tenuous and fragile - thoughts and wishes to those unfortunate affected by this tragedy.

has anyone heard anything about surf conditions? (just kidding ;) )
posted by specialk420 at 7:32 AM on December 26, 2004


A map of recent global seismic activity can be found here.

The National Earthquake Information Center is here.

General Information on earthquakes is available from the USGS here.

.
posted by mosch at 7:34 AM on December 26, 2004


Fuck, I felt the damn thing in Bangalore early this morning (6:41 +5.5 GMT)

We're really losing lots of lives over here in India. Links to some accounts and photos (Chennai bloggers)

Sankar

Suman

Guru

Will post more as I see them.

At times like these I feel glad I'm an atheist. I definitely couldn't rationalise a god doing this to people.
posted by madman at 7:56 AM on December 26, 2004


No doubt with such terrible loss of life, evangelical Christians are overjoyed. The Rapture is coming.
posted by orange clock at 8:05 AM on December 26, 2004


Does anyone have any inifo on volunteer orgs providing help, or places accepting donations for aid?
posted by emptyage at 8:28 AM on December 26, 2004


Actually such a fatalistic view is more Islamic than Christian. "Allah wills it." Who do you think will be pulling people from the wreckage? Christian mission and relief agencies (I personally know of two groups leaving from Singapore in 2 days)... the UN doesn't give a shit.
posted by TetrisKid at 8:28 AM on December 26, 2004


I hope Arthur C. Clarke is okay (he lives in Sri Lanka).
posted by zsazsa at 8:33 AM on December 26, 2004


Who do you think will be pulling people from the wreckage?

In India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives? It'll be the Indian army, navy and coast guard.
posted by riffola at 8:34 AM on December 26, 2004


Having lived through fairly strong temblors in the Philippines, my heart goes out to all the victims. Just the feeling of the ground shaking beneath your feet is absolutely primevally frightening.
posted by azul at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2004


That's a crying shame. What an awful Christmas.
posted by esquire at 8:51 AM on December 26, 2004


This should serve as a lesson in the importance of understanding cause and effect. Many recent tragedies have had escalated casualties due to ignorance of what to do. In the event of a an earthquake in a coastal region - head for high ground. In the event of a fire in a high rise or a mountain tunnel - head down not up. Always carry a pocket knife and a light source.

Awful failure that word did not get out about the earthquake.
posted by srboisvert at 8:52 AM on December 26, 2004


i_cola - I have some contacts in Sri Lanka, but none near Arugam bay. What have you been able to try so far?
posted by metaculpa at 8:55 AM on December 26, 2004


Oh wow. This is a terrible and shocking tragedy.

One of my close friends and her family went to Sri Lanka on the 24th... it's almost impossible to find out if people are ok, so fingers are crossed.

Inevitably with this kind of disaster, the death toll seems to rise every hour or so, as new reports come in. 7000 at last check. Lets hope it doesn't go any higher.
posted by iso_bars at 8:56 AM on December 26, 2004


Actually such a fatalistic view is more Islamic than Christian.

It's actually not so far off from some Judeo-Old Testament perspectives, either. Rememeber that in Genesis, god sends a flood to wipe out the world and start over because he's displeased with it. In fact, the idea of an ancient flood sent by god(s) is pretty common in mythologies around the world.

Note: I don't believe in the Judeo-Christian god, and I don't think the current disaster was caused by a conscious entity, and my sympanthies/hopes/condolences to all those who are involved, or know people who are.
Also, many who do believe in the story of Noah find it problematic, e.g. 'If god is omnipotent, why was it necessary for him to wipe out his own creation, it wasn't the people's fault,' etc.
posted by bingo at 8:57 AM on December 26, 2004


I'm shocked and saddened to hear about this tragedy. Exactly one month ago I was swimming on a beach near Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu. If the tsunami had hit then I very much doubt I'd still be alive.
posted by adrianhon at 8:57 AM on December 26, 2004


"Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth"

(Ron Mael)

When she's on her best behaviour
Dont be tempted by her favours
Never turn your back on mother earth

Towns are hurled from A to B
By hands that looked so smooth to me
Never turn your back on mother earth

...
posted by mrhappy at 8:57 AM on December 26, 2004


This is the saddest news I've heard in a long time. Seven thousand dead. Jesus.

You know, I suspect nature is indifferent which is, IMO, much more frightening than cruel or vengeful.
posted by hojoki at 8:58 AM on December 26, 2004


Man.... thousands of peoople dead and folks are carping about religions, using a horrible tragedy to grind your axes.
posted by emptyage at 9:23 AM on December 26, 2004


After a disaster is not the right time to discuss theology, it's like arguing about traffic traffic rules while someone's still pinned in their car.

I bet the Sri Lankan Red Cross could use some money.
posted by hob at 9:28 AM on December 26, 2004


Prayers are being offered here.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:38 AM on December 26, 2004


Can we call it quits on the dueling religions business in this thread now, not later?

My thoughts are with everyone here waiting to hear from friends and family. I have a group of friends (American) who went to Thailand for Xmas, and I wondered if anyone new of a US news feed that keeps track of those reported missing- or, for that matter, safe.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:41 AM on December 26, 2004


This is the saddest news I've heard in a long time. Seven thousand dead. Jesus.

I recall a passage in Annie Dillard's For The Time Being about a previous tidal wave in Bangla Desh:

It was in the "numbers" section of the same chapter that we hear the quote, "One death is a tragedy; a million deaths are a statistic" from Joseph Stalin. A tidal wave killed 138,000 people in Bangladesh in 1991, and the thought of a deformed child is almost more moving. Why is it that when we hear of a single death, and the harsh details of it, that we feel extremely bad? Then when we hear of "a million deaths" it doesn't have as big of an impact. It would seem logical that we would be a million times more emotional but it doesn't work like that. This wave isn't the first time that a wave is mentioned in the book. In 1896, a wave killed 27,000 people in northeast Japan .
posted by y2karl at 10:00 AM on December 26, 2004


zsazsa - that was my first thought upon reading this too.
posted by crazy finger at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2004


My first reaction, as with most "natural tragedies", was stunned horror.

My second was to mutter that I don't need my own little island after all, thanks.
posted by davy at 10:05 AM on December 26, 2004


Yes, hojoki, nature is indifferent, but what scares me is when people are indifferent to nature.

Here in L.A., we're about to get our biggest rains of the season, and the news reports of houses lost to a mud flow that was inevitable even before the hills were burned out are coming soon. It's even expected to rain on the Rose Parade, which strange local religious beliefs say is always blessed by sunny weather. Which, I know, is a pebble in the shoe compared to the devastation in another part of the world.

My concerns are with everyone in the earthquake/tsunami area, especially the survivors, who have a long, tough road ahead.
posted by wendell at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2004


It's particularly pathetic that American cable news networks are devoting so little time to this global tragedy. They basically don't give a damn. They grudgingly give brief reports of the damage once an hour.
posted by fleener at 10:07 AM on December 26, 2004


As the old saying goes... God is great (as are Frosted Flakes)

(Funny how the places with militant Islamic movements keep feeling that tectonic love these last few years)
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2004


Mercy Corps is accepting donations for earthquake relief here.
posted by mosch at 10:26 AM on December 26, 2004


Wow, this is scary stuff indeed. I have friends in Indonesia, I hope they are okay.

And arguing religion now is in very poor taste.
posted by fenriq at 10:26 AM on December 26, 2004


Wikipedia has an outstanding summary of facts about it, especially considering how recent an event it is.
posted by Alt F4 at 10:30 AM on December 26, 2004


what fenriq said.
posted by moonbird at 10:31 AM on December 26, 2004


(Funny how the places with militant Islamic movements keep feeling that tectonic love these last few years)


Well, excuuuse me, Fupped Duck, but I don't think we in India have been the major centre of miltant Islamic movements. And in case you missed it, over 3200 Indians are dead, thank you very much. And that's only the reported number so far. I know it's not newsworthy over there on your news networks, but for those of us with friends and family hit by this, it's all too tragic.

Don't forget the 2400 dead in Sri Lanka. Not much Islamic militant activity there either.

And it's 9000 people dead all over so far.

(Also, what fleener said.)
posted by madman at 10:37 AM on December 26, 2004


Thanks for the Mercy Corps link.

I have some friends with two small children who own & operate a guesthouse on a small island on the Andaman. I'm pretty concerned about them. (And less so about two more friends who live in Bangkok).


Anybody know of relief orgs looking for volunteers? My wife is a nurse & she'd like to hop on a plane....
posted by emptyage at 10:41 AM on December 26, 2004


y2karl, Dillard's book sounds very interesting, I've got to get it. Thanks.

wendell, as indifferent as we humans can sometimes be to nature (so true) it's at times like these our indifference just seems to pale, you know?
posted by hojoki at 10:46 AM on December 26, 2004


In this MSNBC report, it says:
“All the planet is vibrating” from the quake, said Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy’s National Geophysics Institute. Speaking on SKY TG24 TV, Boschi said the quake even disturbed the Earth’s rotation.
What kind of impact on the rotation? Anyone know enough to speculate?
posted by Gyan at 10:48 AM on December 26, 2004


.
posted by cookie-k at 10:55 AM on December 26, 2004


Please check this link for many eyewitness accounts: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4125619.stm

My prayers go out to all those affected
posted by zia at 10:57 AM on December 26, 2004


gyan - wild guess - it's slightly altered the distribution of mass, so the movement of the rotational axis of the earth (which is slowly precessing) changed direction slightly (like changing the little weights when you're balancing a car wheel). but i have no idea how they'd measure that so quickly. gps maybe?
posted by andrew cooke at 11:01 AM on December 26, 2004


It's particularly pathetic that American cable news networks are devoting so little time to this global tragedy.
I know it's not newsworthy over there on your news networks


It's all over my American television, not to mention:

Top Story at CNN
Top Story at MSNBC
Top Story at NYTimes.com
Top Story at FoxNews.com
Top Story at ABC News
Top Story at WashingtonPost.com
Top Story at USA Today.com

Isn't there compulsory "d00d, the amerikan media hates foreigners" commentary every time there's a non-American tragedy, and isn't it consistently proven wrong?

On-topic:

.
posted by dhoyt at 11:06 AM on December 26, 2004


Also, if you are looking for relatives, you may want to post there. Other people are.
posted by zia at 11:07 AM on December 26, 2004


The more I read, the more speechless I get. My heart and my prayers go out to those hurt today.
posted by kmartino at 11:23 AM on December 26, 2004


This is a bit morbid, but does anyone know of any video images of the waves in question?
posted by mert at 11:26 AM on December 26, 2004


My sincere condolences go out to everyone affected by this catastrophe.
posted by darkstar at 11:31 AM on December 26, 2004


dhoyt, no one's saying it isn't being covered, but it is covered from afar, given that we are geographically quite distant from the event. My dad is in india, so I have been trying to find more specific information, but this morning there were just little blips about it here and there. I am now counting on BBC world which is covering it well, but for instance, CNN is doing a special on billy graham, and regular channels are not cutting into programs the way they would if it were an american disaster. (not saying that's wrong - fewer americans are affected blah blah blah... )
posted by mdn at 11:33 AM on December 26, 2004


Have to praise BBC World for its continuous coverage. Gotta love public television, when it works it's simply the best possible.
posted by elpapacito at 11:45 AM on December 26, 2004


truly terrifying.

.
posted by dabitch at 11:45 AM on December 26, 2004


Isn't there compulsory "d00d, the amerikan media hates foreigners" commentary every time there's a non-American tragedy, and isn't it consistently proven wrong?

The equally compulsory knee jerk refutations are just as annoying as the accusations insofar as the repetitive generic making-yourself-right-by-making-the-other-guy-wrong ax grinding involved is concerned. Boy, talk about Pavlov's dog in either case.
posted by y2karl at 12:03 PM on December 26, 2004


I don't know what to say. I'm praying for everyone affected.
posted by LeeJay at 12:08 PM on December 26, 2004


Report and slideshow of flood from Amritapuri Ashram, southern India.
posted by moonbird at 12:15 PM on December 26, 2004


No doubt with such terrible loss of life, evangelical Christians are overjoyed. The Rapture is coming.

I am certainly not overjoyed. Our church has connections to Sri Lanka and to Thailand... I am very concerned for all the people there and in the other affected areas. What a horrible horrible thing.
posted by konolia at 12:18 PM on December 26, 2004


Japanese news is showing continuous updates about this earthquake which may have killed over ten Japanese...

God, I hate localized (meaning local on a national level, not on a city or state level) news. No matter how many people are dead, the news focuses on the five or ten nationals of the country of the news program, to the virtual exclusion of the other thousands.

(Note that this is a generalized complaint, not an addition to the AmericaMediaCoverage/Noncoverage discussion)
posted by Bugbread at 12:23 PM on December 26, 2004


further to the seasonality speculation above, volcanoes are known to be more likely to erupt according to season: link

It is incredible to see this earthquake shaking up our local seismograph a world away. Or a world together, more like.

CBC newsworld is covering in more or less nonstop, mostly with stringers from the countries affected, so a very distributed view. Horrifying.
posted by Rumple at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2004


AskMe-like question: I understand the footage of waterlogged areas due to rains, but in the case of a tsunami, why doesn't most of the water rush back off to the ocean the same way it came in? Why so much water in the streets after the wave has receded? Is it just pooled up in areas lower than their surrounding areas?
posted by Bugbread at 12:30 PM on December 26, 2004


bugbread, localized news used to annoy me as well, but in this case where Danish news is reporting on two officially dead Danes and giving updates on the ten still missing, I'm grateful as friends are vacationing in Phuket and I dearly hope they are not on the list.
posted by dabitch at 12:39 PM on December 26, 2004


i don't think it's that sudden. look at moonbird's links. it rises and falls quite slowly. at least in some places. i think maybe the shape of the land (esp under the sea) controls the details.
but also what you suggest - i live partly in la serena, and if there is a tsunami there then there will be a large water-logged region, because for about a mile inland it's almost sea-level, with just a slight ridge at the seaside road (i just bought an appartment on the top of the rise after that - despite some nice seaside places being available - so hopefully when the next earthquake strikes chile it will be safe, if it remains standing after the shock).
posted by andrew cooke at 12:39 PM on December 26, 2004


Hope my friend is ok, he's in Sri Lanka and I can't reach him.

Hoping for the best for everyone elses family and friends as well.
posted by squeak at 12:41 PM on December 26, 2004


squeak, I hope your friend is safe.
posted by hojoki at 12:43 PM on December 26, 2004


Isn't there compulsory "d00d, the amerikan media hates foreigners" commentary every time there's a non-American tragedy, and isn't it consistently proven wrong?

CNN specifically has been criticised before for giving a low priority to foreign news, for instance CNN cofounder Reese Schonfeld has complained that when the Madrid bombings occurred the BBC covered it extensively but CNN chose to run a story about same-sex marriage at the top of each hour (CNN Cofounder: CNN Dropped the Ball in Covering Madrid Bombings). So while this criticsim of CNN is familiar sounding it is accurate.
posted by bobo123 at 1:10 PM on December 26, 2004


From the IRIS Map, it looks as if the whole ring of fire has seen some sizeable earthquakes in the last 2 weeks -- should anyone be worried that this could become a local US interest story?
posted by weston at 1:11 PM on December 26, 2004


I think the biggest reason for localized news is due to the many (reasonable) comments we see here from people who know people in the affected region, that the viewers/readers will want to know if someone they know is okay. The more important foriegn (to the affected region) news will be how other countries help the survivors and that won't be knowable for days and weeks.

My heart does go out on this day.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:12 PM on December 26, 2004


For those who are interested, I'm linking to firsthand accounts from LiveJournalers in the effected regions on my site.
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:35 PM on December 26, 2004


CNN Int'l is wall-to-wall with news and reports if you get it--devastating video of people (in Sri Lanka, i think) clinging to buses and buildings and the current dragging them away, and cellphone reports from tourists in various places. They're saying 10,000 dead and many many thousands missing, and millions of people affected. And video of tourists carrying dead tourists on surfboards and stuff. Horrible. And a long cellphone report from a Dutch tourist somewhere in a resort area who was on a boat in the water when it hit.
posted by amberglow at 1:47 PM on December 26, 2004


Have to praise BBC World for its continuous coverage. Gotta love public television, when it works it's simply the best possible.

yep.

so, on regional news -
My father is traveling with his girlfriend, who has been in india since before thanksgiving (my dad went to meet up with her in early/mid december). I just called my dad's girlfriend's daughter (ah, modern family...) and she did not know what I was talking about. She had not heard anything about the earthquake. She's a social person and checks the news etc, but this wasn't high enough on the radar for her to come across it accidentally. No papers printed a second edition with this info (at least not in my area) - it will be in tomorrow's paper. It is not a major topic of conversation small talk the way some news items are.

again, I'm not saying it ought to be necessarily - what's in your actual region does have a greater impact. Still, in my view american media does have it a little bit unbalanced. This is a major world event but probably affects limited numbers of americans (how many americans spend the holidays in southeast asia?) so it really doesn't get much coverage.
posted by mdn at 1:50 PM on December 26, 2004


does anyone find it exceptionally creepy that the earthquake in Bam, Iran, occured exactly one year ago today?
posted by moonbird at 1:58 PM on December 26, 2004


I don't like that TWNYC doesn't carry BBC World (news), thanks for the tip regarding CNNI amber, I think from here on I'll tune into CNNI more than CNN.
posted by riffola at 2:14 PM on December 26, 2004


*weeps*
This is truly a sad day. I'd like to echo the statements above: I'm praying for everyone affected.
posted by rxreed at 2:16 PM on December 26, 2004


does anyone find it exceptionally creepy that the earthquake in Bam, Iran, occured exactly one year ago today?

I don't think it's "exceptionally creepy." It's a 1 in 365 chance. Although not terrifically good odds, it's not so extreme that I would ascribe exceptional creepiness to it.
posted by Alt F4 at 2:20 PM on December 26, 2004


Awful. Some more surfacing images from IHT give more visuals on what's happening.

This is sort of a naive/morbid question, but: what is the most common way to fall victim to a tidal wave? Is it mostly getting crushed by larger objects in its wake, like buildings? Or is it mostly drowning? Never having seen one, or known anyone who's seen one, it still seems like a nebulous concept. I guess all the ways to die in this case are pretty awful, but I'm always astounded how so many people can die so fast (as opposed to a more "contained" tragedy like the WTC, where most everyone is clearly crushed by the collapsing building).
posted by dhoyt at 2:41 PM on December 26, 2004


I don't think it's "exceptionally creepy." It's a 1 in 365 chance. Although not terrifically good odds, it's not so extreme that I would ascribe exceptional creepiness to it.

I started to write a post pointing out that the odds were only 1 in 365 given certainty that an earthquake of this magnitude would happen this year. However, while trying to find the odds of a high magnitude earthquake, I discovered that in fact an average of 1 earthquake >8 happens a year. So the odds were surprisingly good that an earthquake this strong would happen at all. Also, the Bam earthquake was a "strong" earthquake (6-7, it was 6.6), which apparently happen on average about 10 times a month, so the odds that this earthquake would happen on the same day as some strong earthquake last year were in fact about 1 out of 3.

Of course the odds of both involving catastrophic loss of life may be much lower - I'm not sure how to estimate that. This is, I think, the part that feels creepy. I can't really remember many earthquakes that were as catastrophic as these two in my lifetime (which, admittedly, isn't so long).
posted by advil at 2:50 PM on December 26, 2004


Surviving a Tsunami . Page with a link to a big (15.7 MB) PDF file.
posted by taz at 2:52 PM on December 26, 2004


I don't have figures to do comparison with, but I guess this is the worst natural disaster ever , when considering the deaths, the unjuried , displaced and the property lost ? I guess there's like some million people without a hut now ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:04 PM on December 26, 2004


Elpapacito, I think it's too early to tell and also dependent on your definition of natural disaster as several times a disease pandemic has killed outright more than 10,000,000 people. And Y2Karl mentioned above the 1991 tidal wave that killed 138k people in Bangladesh and that surely injured and dispossed 10 or 20x more.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:21 PM on December 26, 2004


.
posted by ed at 3:21 PM on December 26, 2004


indeed I didn't notice the y2karl post, thanks
posted by elpapacito at 3:23 PM on December 26, 2004


The 1976 Tangshan earthquake deatholl has been estimated at between 250,000 and 650,000 people.

In terms of property damage, it wouldn't surprise me if the recent Florida hurricanes did more dollar damage than this SE Asian tragedy.

But in terms of areal extent, its hard to think of a more extensive one. Terrible, terrible
posted by Rumple at 3:44 PM on December 26, 2004


blockhead needs help in askme about this--his brother is missing (i hope he's ok)
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on December 26, 2004


As previously discussed on Metafilter there may be a mega-tsunami (150 metre wave) (map) danger for the east coast of North America if a major landslide were to occur on the Canary islands.

Fortunately, more recent research suggests that the risk is much lower than originally thought that the landslide would happen as a single event (more details in this PDF file). However, predictions of rare geological events are very difficult: for example, despite all the pre-eruption monitoring, the lateral pattern of the Mt St Helen's 1980 eruption was not predicted.
posted by Rumple at 4:03 PM on December 26, 2004


The bit that really struck me was "People that were snorkeling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach" as I have plans to be doing exactly that in exactly that region of the world. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy, this is beyond awful.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:08 PM on December 26, 2004


Rumple,

I doubt the dollar value of hurricane damage in Florida exceeds that throughout South East Asia now, but even if it does that's more a reflection of purchasing-power disparity in international currency markets than of actual, real impact on human lives.
posted by randomstriker at 4:18 PM on December 26, 2004


randomstriker - I realize it is largely about international exchange -- I was being ironic (where is that special punctuation mark?). But, regarding the factual point: Hurricane Charley alone is said to have cost over 500 million USD for pleasure boats alone - I bet that amount of raw capital would rebuild much of what Sri Lanka, say, lost in infrastructure. Factor in 2 billion in lost Floridan agricultural products (thats a lot of oranges) and before you even get to houses, cars, etc you are into a huge sum of money. Hurricane Andrew cost ca. 25 billion dollars. - the GDP of Sri Lanka is 75 billion corrected for purchasing power disparity..

Needless to say there is a widespread "caring disparity" in lives lost between the western world and the "south". The newscast issues alluded to above are part of that, but ultimately a lot of people believe - or a lot of news organizations believe that people believe - that dead poor brown people don't overly matter. I don't know anyone who would admit it, but there must be some basis for this perception.
posted by Rumple at 4:45 PM on December 26, 2004


Needless to say there is a widespread "caring disparity" in lives lost between the western world and the "south".

And it sucks. But discussion of whether that point is appropriate for MetaAnywhere should probably happen over on MetaTalk instead.
posted by davy at 5:14 PM on December 26, 2004


(Jeez guys, what's it like having a political rod stuck up your ass for 24 hours a day 365 days a year?)

The wide scope of this disaster is dramatic and tragic, and for the most part the internet is providing support and information to many with direct and indirect connections to the area. Thanks to those with informative links here.

Here's some images from from Phuket.
posted by HTuttle at 5:18 PM on December 26, 2004


Having lived through the kind of horror of not-knowing that others in this thread are, a couple of years ago after the Bali bombing (when so many of you here were so kind and helpful), my thoughts are with you, and my hopes for a happier conclusion to the crisis than mine was.

Strength, friends.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:22 PM on December 26, 2004


.
posted by geekyguy at 5:33 PM on December 26, 2004


.

x 11,000 +
posted by bwg at 5:46 PM on December 26, 2004


It's particularly pathetic that American cable news networks are devoting so little time to this global tragedy.

Here in Sydney, the SBS channel switched to BBC world, and news reports from other channels were almost casual. I lived in pondicherry (just south of Chennai) and can easily imagine the extent of damage the waves must have caused.

.
posted by dhruva at 5:56 PM on December 26, 2004


I still can't get over that it even affected Africa, killing people in Somalia.
posted by amberglow at 6:31 PM on December 26, 2004


Aftershock: "A strong earthquake occurred at 19:19:53 (UTC) on Sunday, December 26, 2004. The magnitude 6.2 event has been located OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA."
posted by Doohickie at 7:18 PM on December 26, 2004


we have a friend who is in Madras today - it's supposed to be his wedding day. Can't get through on the phones. I know land lines would be down, but can anyone who may be in the area tell me whether mobile networks are down also?
posted by darsh at 7:21 PM on December 26, 2004


I just had a sudden realization. Diego Garcia is smack dab in between the epicenter and Sri Lanka.

The highest elevation there is 22' MSL.
posted by eriko at 7:23 PM on December 26, 2004


they could be, darsh. was the wedding supposed to be by the coast?
posted by amberglow at 7:31 PM on December 26, 2004


darsh, they shutdown the nuclear power plant in that area, so they might not have enough power to power up celltowers.
posted by riffola at 7:34 PM on December 26, 2004


eriko - great point. Your link says 22 feet maximum elevation (not 22 metres), and an average elevation of only four feet. Thats especially scary when you think of how many nukes are probably stored there. Would they be in underground bunkers (water table problems?) or in hangers? or?
posted by Rumple at 7:48 PM on December 26, 2004


I just heard on the radio that the Indonesia figures are only for Banda Aceh and surroundings. I'm really worried that when reports start coming in from the rest of the island the causalty figures are going to rise dramatically.
posted by dydecker at 7:52 PM on December 26, 2004


Diego Garcia is actually quite a bit south of the Maldives but if the waves reached Somalia with some strength, then both of them should be considerably overrun. I wonder how well those B52s are tied down.

According to the USGS Data, Sumatra and surroundings have been shaking pretty hard and often for the last 24 hours.

I'm afraid the death toll will surpass 25,000 in a few days.
posted by aliendolphin at 7:56 PM on December 26, 2004


i_cola: I don't know if this helps, but CNN is getting a report from Nate Berkus (some celebrity) who is in Arugam Bay. Unfortunately they are saying "worst-hit" area and he's saying "utter devastation" and that they are sleeping in a field, bodies everywhere. He's missing a friend as well. He says that in the aftermath everyone's been helping each other but when the tusmani hit they were all caught unaware and were torn apart from each other. He's appealing for help in the area because he says they're "desperate". I'm so sorry and I'm desperately hoping for the best for you and any others who are missing people.
posted by livii at 8:04 PM on December 26, 2004


Considering almost no word out of Myanmar yet, yes the death toll could go much much higher.
posted by Rumple at 8:14 PM on December 26, 2004


Here's the story. Just from the headline and such, it's depressingly petty, "10,000 dead - friend of celebrity interior decorator missing!"
posted by abcde at 8:16 PM on December 26, 2004


yeah, CNN in the US finally found a reason to run with the story--an Oprah connection--ugh.

I do hope he finds his boyfriend tho.
posted by amberglow at 8:20 PM on December 26, 2004


Here in NYC, CNN finally switched to continuous coverage at 11:30pm, after everyone has gone to sleep. Only if Virgin Mary had appeared on a coconut, weeping...

Any word from the west coast of Sumatra?
posted by aliendolphin at 8:32 PM on December 26, 2004


darsh, I called my friends in Chennai and the mobile networks seem to be doing fine. If you want help locating your friend, email me his number and I'll ask one of my friends in Chennai to try calling him.

Don't worry, Chennai (Madras) wasn't as badly hit as other places. I'm sure he's OK.
posted by madman at 9:30 PM on December 26, 2004


Gah. This is terrible. I have a friend over in Indonesia (I'm not sure where, I can only hope he wasn't right on the coast) with Canada World Youth-- his family can't reach him.

*hoping*
posted by stray at 10:06 PM on December 26, 2004


.
posted by ori at 11:28 PM on December 26, 2004


Found out one of our two acquaintances had already flown back, but the other one was still in Phuket. Details are sketchy (he managed to send us an SMS, but the phones is dead now), but he says he's currently stranded on an island, and that he had been out diving that morning.

Speaking of foreign news coverage, I have three news services here in China: BBC World, CNN, and Fox News. BBC had suspended all programming immediately to concentrate on the event. I also recall CNN having adequate news coverage. But Fox News had a brief flash before going back to talking about Americans losing their luggage, something which really sickened me. Their odd conversational jokey tone also seemed in really poor taste. They didn't even seem capable of comprehending the scale of the disaster, talking about Sri Lanka as if it was a neighbouring country to Thailand. I might be being oversensitive, but isn't this a rather strong display of unfeeling?
posted by Jongo at 11:59 PM on December 26, 2004


One of the most tragic things I heard was that when the waters on the beach receded (as they do before a tsunami), the phenomenon was treated not as a warning sign, but as a point of fascination, so that people came down towards the beach to see what was going on.
posted by Jongo at 12:12 AM on December 27, 2004


A shirt-tail uncle and aunt, scheduled to fly to Bangkok tonight for a long-planned holiday, were assured by their travel booker that they'd still be able to have their vacation as planned.

I asked if Bangkok won't be crowded with refugees. "Bangkok's always crowded," they replied.

Not sure if they're brave or callous or good for going ahead and spending their money. But dang, can you imagine having a holiday there now?
posted by goofyfoot at 12:32 AM on December 27, 2004


This del.icio.us tagset is a good source of non-bigmedia information.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:44 AM on December 27, 2004


15,500 as of 5pm GMT +8.

Guess where my sister insisted on going for a beach holiday this morning? Bintan, Indonesia. It's not likely to be affected (God Willing), but she sure knows how to pick her spots.
posted by jetgrrl at 1:07 AM on December 27, 2004


Regarding the comment about Diego Garcia's potential vulnerability, there was an interview on Australian radio with a seismologist in Hawaii who sent out warnings of the impending tsunami (which were largely ignored as the Indian Ocean doesn't have a Pacific style warning protocol in place).
He mentioned he had alerted US "assets" in the vicinity and mentioned Diego Garcia by name, so presumably they had time to batten down the hatches/launch the planes.
posted by bystander at 1:17 AM on December 27, 2004


.

I really hope the nukes are safe. A good old freind of mine spent a lot of time on Diego Garcia, and they have lots of bunkers that can easily weather it, but not enough for all the stuff they have.
posted by blasdelf at 1:23 AM on December 27, 2004


I didn't hear anything about this all day until I turned on the news late tonight. My thoughts go out specifically to those in this thread looking for missing acquaintences and loved ones. I won't even pretend to know what you're going through.
posted by The God Complex at 2:46 AM on December 27, 2004


My condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and my best wishes & hopes for the next few months. I don't think we can even start to understand the extent of this tragedy.

On a personal level, a couple I have met maybe three times who are good friends of good friends of mine were in Sri Lanka when the tsunami hit. It's shocking to think that they may have been killed. I'm sure that over the next few weeks I'm going to learn about more people who were holidaying in Asia when this happened.
posted by seanyboy at 4:01 AM on December 27, 2004


The Foreign and Commonwealth Office set up a crisis line on Sunday morning for relatives and loved ones to call for information on 020 7008 0000.--from BBC News (although people are having trouble getting thru)
posted by amberglow at 5:02 AM on December 27, 2004


The Red Cross has mobilized to help survivors. If you're interested in donating to the relief effort, they can be reached in the US at (800) HELP NOW (435-7669). Oxfam is also taking donations. Red Cross press release. OxFam press release.

Also mobilizing to help:
Save the Children
CARE Australia and CARE USA
World Vision International
MercyCorps
Doctors Without Borders

In Malaysia. the Penang Office of Human Development (POHD), is looking for volunteers to help evacuate villages at Tanjung Tokong.
posted by zarq at 7:10 AM on December 27, 2004


Why Sri Lanka?
posted by mcgraw at 8:44 AM on December 27, 2004


My heart goes out to all of you who have loved ones over there. It is awful to think that such a disaster happened and so many lives are taken. On the other hand, I too believe there could have been warnings to help save people. I know that the Pacific unlike the Indian Ocean is really studded with buoys which send out warnings when the sea-level changes dramatically. Then again, it might not have made much difference here since people would not have heard about it or would have too little time to react.

Also more on earthquakes and global warming here. Do we know enough yet to exclude the possibility that anthropogenic effects on the climate trigger such disasters or at least change the frequency and intensity of occurrence?
posted by carmina at 9:05 AM on December 27, 2004


Actor Jet Li and his family who were vacationing on the Maldives, has also apparently been added to the missing person's list...
posted by fairmettle at 9:17 AM on December 27, 2004


zsazsa: I hope Arthur C. Clarke is okay (he lives in Sri Lanka).

there's a short statement from arthur on the clarke foundation website today. he's fine, but some of the staff at his diving station are unaccounted for.

On preview:
that sucks about Jet. i hope he and his family are okay. what a terrible tragedy for everyone, famous or not.
posted by acid freaking on the kitty at 9:23 AM on December 27, 2004


Chinese kung fu film star Jet Li, who was in the Maldives on holiday, called his Hong Kong agent to report he and his family are safe.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:03 AM on December 27, 2004


tsunami pictures at flickr
posted by feelinglistless at 10:44 AM on December 27, 2004


It's particularly pathetic that American cable news networks are devoting so little time to this global tragedy. They basically don't give a damn. They grudgingly give brief reports of the damage once an hour.

I noticed that, I get the British Channels in addition to the Fox, CNN, MSNBC and the difference is astounding. Sky News (UK) are doing wall to wall coverage, reading messages back from people in Asia saying they're ok. If I turn on the American networks they aren't always reporting on it and when they are it's ofter from a 'could this happen here' point of view. Similar thing happened during the Beslan school thing earlier this year. I believe there was a bit of a discussion on the way American news networks cover events elsewhere in the world.

Isn't there compulsory "d00d, the amerikan media hates foreigners" commentary every time there's a non-American tragedy, and isn't it consistently proven wrong?

No, proving it's the top story isn't the same as proving that it gets the same level of coverage. I have access to both American and British news networks right this second and you couldn't even make an arguement that the level of coverage is the same.
posted by daveirl at 2:05 PM on December 27, 2004


Some links for anyone worried about relatives in Phuket [1] [2]
posted by daveirl at 2:55 PM on December 27, 2004


daveirl, this child pretty much broke my heart. I am still waiting for word from someone on the western coast of Thailand.
posted by kuatto at 3:13 PM on December 27, 2004


kuatto, that picture breaks my heart. How frightening it must be for that poor boy.
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2004


"...shock waves from the most powerful quake in 40 years set off seismic sensors around the world - including one in Central Park [New York]"
posted by ericb at 3:30 PM on December 27, 2004


video of the wave hitting, via Waxy. Anyone know of any others?
posted by dmd at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2004


Danish tourist took this video Lanta Beach Thailand(windows media) of the first small wave (!). http://tsunamihelp.blogspot.com/ aims to collect links to information about resouces aids etc.
posted by dabitch at 4:36 PM on December 27, 2004


Child's relatives are found
posted by kuatto at 5:11 PM on December 27, 2004


"Swedish toddler Hannes Bergstrom, who was separated from his parents when he was rescued in Phang Nga, was identified within an hour of his picture being posted online."

This makes one step back and appreciate the "power" of the Internet!
posted by ericb at 7:14 PM on December 27, 2004


kuatto, thanks for the update.
posted by ericb at 7:52 PM on December 27, 2004


Madman, thanks for the offer, we finally heard from him - the wedding party, including the groom is OK - shaken, but alive. My thoughts to everyone who is still waiting for news...
posted by darsh at 5:29 AM on December 28, 2004


streaming windows media of second wave hitting, taken by a Swede in Phuket, shows a British couple being swept away. They're shocked and bruised but the cameraman has since seen them in hospital, they're OK.

Thanks for the update darsh. Candles lit for all still missing.
posted by dabitch at 6:22 AM on December 28, 2004


I also heard from my dad this morning, who was inland and didn't know what had happened until people began talking about it. The hotel they'd just left (in Chochin) was flooded but no one was hurt, and the area they'd intended to go to next (the southern tip) was reporting about 500 dead when he wrote, but where they actually were (he didn't mention where that was) was unaffected.

so that's relieving...
posted by mdn at 6:56 AM on December 28, 2004


Kids most vulnerable to tsunamis’ torrential fury - U.N. estimates children account for between a third and a half of dead.
posted by ericb at 8:31 AM on December 28, 2004


Blogs Provide Raw Details From Scene of the Disaster (NYT)
posted by ericb at 8:48 AM on December 28, 2004


That video of the first wave hitting was one of the most dreadful, chilling pieces of tape I have ever seen. The magnitude of the loss of life is also, to me, utterly incomprehensible.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how much time had elapsed between the first seismic event (earthquake) and when the tsunamis started hitting the shores? Was there not enough time to clear the beaches and head to higher ground, or did people generally not know what was on the way?
posted by Flem Snopes at 9:00 AM on December 28, 2004


From News.com.au: "Wave warning fell on deaf ears: A tsunami warning that could have saved thousands of lives was issued but not acted upon more than an hour before giant waves hit Sri Lanka and southern India....experts in Honolulu admitted they had forecast the disaster within 15 minutes of Sunday's earthquake off the coast of Sumatra but did not know who to pass the information to." More.
posted by ericb at 9:51 AM on December 28, 2004


From Khaleej Times: "Pressure built for an Indian Ocean tsunami-warning centre on Tuesday after frustrated scientists said they knew killer waves were speeding towards coastlines across Asia but was powerless to raise the alarm. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre and the International Tsunami Information Centre, both in Hawaii, detected the December 26 earthquake off Indonesia that generated the Indian Ocean tsunamis. But the centres were set up to provide alerts to Pacific nations and frantic scientists had no contacts in the countries in the path of the giant waves which experts said could rush across oceans at up to 800 kilometres (496 miles) an hour. As a result, they lost the chance to alert some of the worst hit areas hours before the tsunamis hit..."
posted by ericb at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2004


Animation of the spread of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on December 28, 2004


Another animation (Quicktime) from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
posted by ericb at 10:58 AM on December 28, 2004


Words fail me. This is horrific.
It's heartbreaking.
posted by ginz at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2004


Even if the scientists get government contacts in all the potentially impacted nations, I wonder how effectively the governments will be able to get word out to people on the ground. Something like the air raid systems used (in Western nations, at least) may be workable but also add considerably to the cost. Not that it wouldn't justified or useful, but the higher the cost the less likely the system will get put in.
posted by billsaysthis at 12:47 PM on December 28, 2004


My only experience with such things is in Hawaii, which does have an effective public warning (air raid siren) type system for tsunamis. I'm certain that areas of Japan have this as well, but I can't vouch for anywhere else.
posted by psmealey at 10:45 AM on December 29, 2004


This is just so heart-breaking ... it only gets worse.

"Huge Hurdles: As food supplies dwindle, looters flourish and aid piles up at outposts, relief agencies are trying to cope with a disaster of an almost unimaginable scale."
posted by ericb at 9:42 PM on December 29, 2004


Thanks for all the messages here & via email.

Due to family holiday arranngements I was moving around the UK and was left to mobile phone & TV/radio news to try & round up any info.

Thankfully my cousin, her fiance & AFAIK most of the people who work for her were airlifted out of Arugam Bay (there is an army base nearby) early on and are now with family in the capital Colombo. From what I've seen on TV of what they've left behind they were very, very lucky.

My heart goes out to everyone caught up in this disaster.
posted by i_cola at 6:32 AM on December 30, 2004


I'm glad they're ok, i_cola.
posted by amberglow at 6:39 AM on December 30, 2004


Are We Stingy? Yes (NYT editorial)
posted by amberglow at 8:57 AM on December 30, 2004


We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities.

wow.

thanks, you guys, for keeping interesting links coming on this thread (I've been appreciating it).

from way back when:
550. 1,500. 2,200. 3,000. It's getting worse by the minute.

and we're up to 116,000 now...

posted by mdn at 10:02 AM on December 30, 2004


Tsunami Relief: Charity Efficiency and Transparency Ratings
posted by amberglow at 10:33 AM on December 30, 2004


Might as well add it in here: (self link) Spend the inauguration money on tsunami recovery. Apparently the NY Times is going to publish it, though.
posted by billsaysthis at 3:42 PM on December 30, 2004


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