|I would like to say a Happy New Year of 2005.
However, I have to express my condolence to the victims of the tsunami (a killer tidal wave) at the Indian Ocean, which occurred at the end of the last year. It is said that this tsunami killed around 150,000 to 200,000 innocent people and destroyed houses of more than 5,000,000 people.
The giant earthquake of 9.0 in magnitude suddenly occurred at the offshore on the Indian Ocean side of the northern part of Sumatran Island of Indonesia at 8:00am, on the date of December 26th last year. A large-scale tsunami that exceeded 20 meters immediately after that surged to Sumatran in Indonesia. It also attacked the Phuket Island in a Thai southern part within 30 minutes. In addition, it raided the resort in the south Sri Lanka and India after 2 hours. Maldives was also attacked after 3 hours. The numbers of victims are estimated to at least 150,000 people. It is the historically largest number of victims by one natural disaster.
According to the American Geological Laboratory, the center of the earthquake is located to the Western part of the Sumatran Island. The depth of the center of earthquake is only 10 kilometers under the surface. The magnitude of the earthquake was 9.0, which was the 5th largest one since 1900. It is calculated the energy of this earthquake is 1,600 times of the Hanshin Earthquake (M7.3) in 1995.
The tsunami firstly assaulted the Banda Ache City of the Sumatra of Indonesia, because it was the nearest place to the center of the earthquake. The whole city area was perfectly destroyed. The two photograph of this city before and after the tsunami showed how serious the damage on the city it was. All of the former beautiful houses of Bandha Ache had disappeared and new lagoons appeared here and there. Formerly Bandha Ache was surrounded by wonderful beach with white sands. However after the tsunami, all sands had gone and the size of the city shrinks.
A certain Indonesian young woman was walking in the town to the mosque. The tsunami suddenly swallowed her. She managed to float up to the seawater and caught palm trees, which was also floating in front of her. She drifted on the palm trees. After a few days she was rescued by a freighter that passed.
However, she was one of few lucky persons. Most of the people swept away by the tsunami were not so lucky like her and were simply drowned.
December 26, which was the day when this tsunami occurred, was unfortunately a Sunday. For Christians like Europeans or Americans were on Christmas holidays. There were many sightseeing foreigners at the tropical beaches facing Indian Ocean, such as Phuket in Thailand or Maldives etc. Without any warnings in advance, the largest tsunami assaulted travelers and inhabitants on or near beaches. This was the disasters that human beings have not experienced for the last a few centuries!
Usually we can enjoy these tropical beaches, because they have purely blue seas with white sands, surrounded by colorful corals and tropical fishes. Everyone wants to visit there at least one time in their lives. We have thought that these tropical beaches are ones of the nearest places to the heaven. However we couldn't believe that tropical beaches are at not only nearest to the heaven but also nearest to the hell.
According to the continental drift theory, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia are on the Eurasia Plate. It is pushed from both sides by the India Plate and the Philippine Plate. So most of earthquakes occur on the border of these three Plates. The border of the India Plate and the Eurasia Plate is located in the sea to the Indian Ocean side of the Indonesia. Big earthquakes have occurred on this border every 200 years. The last big earthquake occurred 171 years ago. Therefore it was very clear that a big earthquake should occur in this area some other day. But no one can say when it was. The situation is the same as the Pacific Ocean countries. But there is an international warning system at 26 countries along the Pacific Lim. And inhabitants of the Pacific Lim have the knowledge how tsunami is dangerous. To the contrary, people along the Indian Ocean seem not to have such knowledge and no warning system.
For instance, the resort Phuket Island in Thailand faces Indian Ocean of the Andaman Sea. At that time when the earthquake occurred, many tourists were playing around on the beach. It was a Sunday morning. Suddenly the tide had pulled back the the sea, tourists and inhabitants did not know what it meant. They started grabbing at the fish that had been left on the beach. Just on that instance, a huge tsunami came and attacked them. The speed of tsunami was 36 kilometers per hour. The height of tsunami was 6 to 10 meters. Most of them were missing. Very limited lucky people were saved. Under such situation, a few elephants knew that some danger will approach. They run away to the hill before tsunami comes. They seem to have special sense evading from natural disaster.
There is an episode of a brave woman in the inside. A photograph attracted people's attention. It showed that a man and three young boys were running for escaping from a big wave on the beach. A woman wearing bikini was directing to them, as if she wanted to rescue them. As a Scandinavian newspaper reported this photograph, she informed that she and her family safely came back to her home town. This surprising lady is a policewoman, 45 years old. They happened to go to the beach of Thailand. Then they encountered the historical tsunami. When tsunami came, she rushed to her children and husband, without thinking coming danger. They were swallowed by tsunami but finally all of them could scarcely escape from the wave. This is really a miracle.
In Sri Lanka, it was reported that a train running the coastline encountered the tsunami wave and around 1,500 passengers died on the spot. The damage of Sri Lanka was also very serous. One of my friends happened to stay and work now in Colombo, Sri Lanka. So I soon thought of him and I was worried. Luckily he was safe and sent me the following e-mail. I hope he will be able to do good jobs in Sri Lanka.
By the way, I would like to express my sincere condolence to the victims of the tsunami of this time. I will do some contribution to them. As the international society, we should do our best to them.
(January 10, 2005)
Dear My Friends
A Happy New Year from Colombo!
It has been reported for the last one week day and night that we had a severe damage because of the earthquake off the coast of Sumatran and the tsunami in the Indian Ocean afterwards generated on Sunday, December 26. On that day, we didn't think that it was serious. So I did only a minimum report on Sunday. Afterwards, it was found that the number of victims had increased by one digit to another. I am surprised that even only Sri Lanka is more than 20,000 people died. I hope that the real number of victims less than this.
Thus, I should say the greeting of the New Year, but I had to say to you that I am all right.
In Sri Lanka. Damage concentrates on the east and the southern part of the island, where it faces the epicenter of the earthquake off the coast of Sumatran. In this region, the traffic and communication are very inconvenient. Japan was also like that, but the situation of the stricken area cannot be understood so easily. Colombo is located on the west side of the island. Sri Lanka is about 1,600 km from the epicenter of earthquake. The tsunami arrived only a few hours. In the case of the last Chili earthquake, it took whole one day for the tsunami arriving at Japan after the trip of 18,000 km through the Pacific Ocean. However this tsunami arrived very fast, because the distance was near.
You might have such impression that Sri Lank and Colombo were destroyed. However in Colombo, it was true that the water level slightly gone up and the port and the port along the coast were flooded. That's all. So there is little influence in Colombo. However the railway, the road and the houses along the coast in suburbs 10km or more far away to the south seem to have received big damage. It might have been only lucky. Fortunately all of my friends are safe. But there are some missing people of their friends. Immediately after the tsunami, the telephone was congested and Internet had become slowly.
This year Japan has encountered many natural disasters such as the typhoon, locally heavy rain, earthquakes and the intense heat. All of them were the record breaking. I thought there should be no more such disasters. However I couldn't believe that such an extraordinary big tsunami at the year-end in the Southeast area. As it has been more and more internationalized, there is a big possibility that Japanese might be involved into natural disasters in oversea. The tsunami of this time should be unexpected happening for peaceful sightseeing spots of beach area.
In Colombo, when it was just after the tsunami, hotels were fully occupied by refugees or travelers, mostly foreigners. However every thing has been returning to normal at this moment. Once we couldn't find any waters, canned food, snacks, and milk powders and so on in the supermarkets. However they had replenished at once and now it is all right. So please don't worry about me.
So far I had written only about tsunami. Thinking about remaining five months, which is the rest term of my assignment in Sri Lanka, I am worried about her future in the field of Information Technology, because only big countries, such as China and India are spot-lighted. However I believe that a small country like Sri Lanka should find out her own way, making use of her own characteristic and the environment of the country. In the case of Sri Lanka, before taking about it, the long-standing issue to the effort for peace is inevitable. In addition to this, Sri Lanka was forced to face tsunami.
I sincerely hope that this New Year will be a wonderful year for all of you.
(January 2, 2005)
Before and After Tsunami
(Kalutara Beach, Sri Lanka)
(c) Yama san 2005, All rights reserved