Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What I don't understand

I realise there is no 'early warning system' in the Indian Ocean that could have detected the tsunami, but what about all those seismographs, etc., that the US and other countries have that can detect the slightest tremour throughout the world? Wouldn't someone have said, oh, gee, a 9.0 earthquake at sea may mean some really bad waves for everyone radiating out? Also, none of India's satellites were over the subcontinent at the time, but what about other countries'? Would it even show up on satellite? Just wondering.

Granted, it was 1 in the morning in Britain and 8 at night on the East Coast (5 pm in California), so that's an off-shift and there's probably no set protocol in place, but in 2 hours, don't you think something could have been tried? I realise they have to analyse the raw data, but again 9.0=very, very bad, even I know that.

And if there was notification, India and many of the other South Asian countries have quite a bit of technology on their side, after all...it's not like you'd have to send yaks out to tell the populace. They have TV, radio, Internet, all the same stuff we do. Thailand is the only country that apparently tried to warn those at the shore but it came too late...I think they got hit fairly early. But what about the ones who were hit hours after the quake?

India had an Air Force Base that was washed away. You'd think they at least might have had warning. But for whatever reason, the correct infrastructure doesn't appear to be in place. Did anyone see the quake detected at one of our centres and try to pass the word? I hope so, for do we not have a responsibility to use our technology to help our fellows? I'd like to see this spur a lot more cooperation to prevent such disasters. We may not be able to control earth and sea, but we can control our reactions to such phenomena.

I actually can understand why there isn't a system in place. Apparently 95% of all the world's tsunami's happen in the Pacific, which is covered nicely between the Japanese and Americans. The Indian Ocean is rare, and a tsunami hasn't hit land there since the great Krakatoa explosion over a hundred years ago. Perhaps the expense was not deemed worthwhile. Still, it's an area of several plates butting into each other, and the danger is one that is known to exist. Anyone who thinks it's too expensive to increase the early warning sysystems has only to look at the bill this one disaster is going to rack up, probably the worst in history. That isn't counting the loss of life, many hundreds of times that of the WTC destruction, and spanning over many countries. Whole towns have been wiped off the map. The death toll has already reached about 1/6th of the city I live in. Imagine how those numbers would affect where you live.

Sadly, the toll will only rise as we get more information, but also as disease sets in...and scientists who fear a pandemic akin to avian flu or such now have more to worry as people from all over the world fly in to help and are exposed to who-know-what, diseases that generally lie dormant until stirred or worsened by such a disaster, and then return to their homelands. Gah. It's mind-boggling.

ABC News: Tidal Waves Death Toll Rises to 44,000

Blogs from the area that discuss the tsunami and its aftermath 'from the ground':
Sumankumar's Blog
Jinath's Blog

Animation of the inudation:
Tsunami Animation - Natl. Inst. of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology in Japan

Compare to the Pacific:
International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific
NOAA Tsunami Research

How you can help:
USAid.gov [with tips on how to evaluate relief agencies]
International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies
The American Red Cross (because the IFRC site seems overwhelmed and wasn't loading when I tried)
Direct Relief
Doctors Without Borders
Save the Children

There's hosts more, of course, but that will point you to where you can do some direct good. Prayers probably couldn't hurt, either, to whichever God you think might have dominion over this sort of situation.

[Update: I had been collecting blogs that discuss what people have seen or experienced either during the earthquake/tsunami or with the aftermath, but now there's a wiki on ground zero experiences that I'm contributing to instead.]

No comments: