A sea of sorrow. The world suffers an epic tragedy as a tsunami spreads death across Asia.
How the Deadly Waves Spread
The most powerful earthquake in 40 years quickly turned into one of the worst disasters in a century, as walls of water crashed ashore across South Asia
Scope Of The Tragedy
The death toll has surpassed 100,000 and will surely climb. Thousands are missing, and millions have been left homeless, threatened by diseases that are spread through dirty water, mosquitoes and over-crowding.
Tanzania. 10 dead.
Kenya. 1 dead.
Somalia. 200 dead.
Maldives. 73 dead.
India. 9,000 dead. Most deaths were in the southern province of Tamil Nadu. As many as 10,000 more are feared dead in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Bangladesh. 2 dead.
Burma. 90 dead.
Thailand. 5,000 dead. Thousands are missing from villages near such popular coastal resort areas as Phuket.
Malaysia. 66 dead.
Sri Lanka. 29,000 dead. Tsunamis lose their energy in shallow water. The ocean off Sri Lanka’s eastern coast is thousands of meters deep just a few kilometers from shore, so the tsunami hit with much more force than it did in Bangladesh, where the shallow water extends more than
160 km out to sea.
Indonesia. 80,000 dead. By far the highest death toll was on the remote northern end of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which suffered the double shock of the quake and the earliest strike of the tsunami. Tens of thousands died in Meulaboh and the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
7 hours. Approximate travel times of the tsunami after the initial earthquake.
Undersea ridges altered the course of the waves, redirecting N the tsunami's main strength '- toward Somalia.
Was it a tidal wave?
Tsunamis are not tidal waves because they are not influenced by the gravitational effect of the moon. But their appearance from shore can be similar to a rapidly rising or falling tide, and the severity of a tsunami can be affected by the level of the tide when the waves hit land.
What causes a tsunami?
A tsunami (a Japanese word that translates as “harbor wave”) is triggered by a vertical disturbance in the ocean, such as an earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption.
1) The disaster was caused by a massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia, where two plates of the earth’s crust grind against each other.
1,200 km of the plate
snapped, forcing a massive displacement
of water in the Indian Ocean.
3) The waves spread in all directions, moving as fast as
800 km/h. In the deep
ocean, the waves may be imperceptible, but they slow down and gain height as
they hit shallow water near shore.
The retreat of a tsunami from land can be quick—and just as dangerous as its approach. The waves often come in a series.
In deep water tsunamis are very long, hallow waves, which means they don’t lose much energy fighting gravity. Given enough initial force, they will travel vast distances until they are slowed by resistance from the sea floor near shore.
A Giant Jolt: The Indian plate usually moves northeast about
6 cm a year. Scientists estimate that in last
week’s quake, the two plates slid about 15 m at once.
Source: Time, special report Tsunami December 26, 2004, January 10, 2005.