Tsunami Toll

|

CNN is reporting that over 21,000 people are dead in the aftermath of tidal waves triggered by a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean:

More than 10,000 people have been reported dead in Sri Lanka. Most of them, authorities said, were in the eastern district of Batticaloa. Thousands were missing, an estimated 1 million were displaced and an estimated 250,000 were homeless.

Whole story here.

Reuters points to warnings of epidemics due to waterborne disease in the aftermath of the devastation.

Advertisement

NEXT: Big Bomb

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Does anybody know if Arthur C. Clarke is okay? He’s been living in Sri Lanka for ages, now.

  2. I am already seeing stories about how a number of groups and seismic lookout centers tried to send warnings to the various coastlines affected hours before the waves hit. One story noted that if everyone had begun walking inland fifteen minutes before the waves hit the deathtoll would have been negligible.

  3. And from stories I hear, there’s video of people, not walking inland, but walking out to the seawall to see where all the water went. Unfortunately, it then came back in a rush. Have any of the stories you’ve seen said what the travel time from earthquake to tsunami landfall was?

  4. There hasn’t been a solid timeframe set up for the various wavestrikes. There must have been a difference of hours between them, though.
    Now I’m reading about a high coastal death toll in Somolia, while there’s no news from Yemen next door.

  5. Jennifer, concerning Arthur C. Clarke:

    http://www.clarkefoundation.org/

    From Sir Arthur regarding the recent tsunamis in South and Southeast Asia:
    Thank you for your concern about my safety in the wake of Sunday?s devastating tidal wave.

    I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.

    But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

    Among those affected are my staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa and holiday bungalow in Kahawa ? both beachfront properties located in areas worst hit. We still don?t know the fully extent of damage as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for ? yet.

    This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath. We are all trying to contribute to the relief efforts. We shall keep you informed as we learn more about what happened.

    Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in The Reefs of Taprobane, 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean.

    Arthur Clarke
    27 December 2004

  6. Jennifer, concerning Arthur C. Clarke:

    http://www.clarkefoundation.org/

    From Sir Arthur regarding the recent tsunamis in South and Southeast Asia:
    Thank you for your concern about my safety in the wake of Sunday?s devastating tidal wave.

    I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.

    But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

    Among those affected are my staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa and holiday bungalow in Kahawa ? both beachfront properties located in areas worst hit. We still don?t know the fully extent of damage as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for ? yet.

    This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath. We are all trying to contribute to the relief efforts. We shall keep you informed as we learn more about what happened.

    Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in The Reefs of Taprobane, 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean.

    Arthur Clarke
    27 December 2004

  7. art is a bozo. what an asshole.

    has anybody else heard reports that officials who didn’t warn costal areas of the earthquake were blaming “international organizations” for not having an international warning system…

    (as heard on ORF this morning).

    just what we need: more international agencies. somehow this will be america’s fault… or at least flesh eating men’s fault.

  8. Except that numerous organizations are saying that they did sent warnings. I can see third world areas not knowing any better, but a lot of affluent beach resorts must’ve knew something was wrong. I imagine a Jaws-type argument: “We can’t close the beach, Christmas is our busiest time of year!”

  9. Looks like Jet Li was in the region and is unaccounted for
    http://jetli.com/gfn/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15581

  10. Glad to hear Jet Li’s OK, though I was kind of hoping to see DMX hop into a cigarette boat and rescue his pal from a monster whirplool or something.

  11. Reported by AP –

    An international tsunami warning system was started in 1965, after the Alaska quake, to advise coastal communities of a potentially killer wave.

    Member states include the major Pacific rim nations in North America, Asia and South America. But because tsunamis are rare in the Indian Ocean, no system exists there. Scientists said deaths would have been reduced if one had.
    ——————-

  12. I’m disappointed. Nobody’s blamed it on Global Warming. 🙂

  13. I would rather blame the foot of snow on my car on global warming.

  14. Isaac-
    Actually, some guy called into the Rush Limbaugh show today trying to claim that humans were at fault for the earthquake because of all our building and mining and other activites that put holes in the ground had destabilized the earth’s crust. The screener obviously let him through to be laughed at, but the caller was convinced, frothing at the mouth about the strength of geodesic domes or something…

  15. goddamn geodesic domes..

  16. Since nobody else has beat me to it:

    Worst. H&R. Headline. Ever.

  17. No, Kevin, that would be “Nearly Headless Nick.”

  18. Anyone read where the UN thinks the US should raise taxes? Apparently the money we’re giving isn’t enough –

    But U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland suggested that the United States and other Western nations were being “stingy” with relief funds, saying there would be more available if taxes were raised.
    http://www.washtimes.com/national/20041228-122330-7268r.htm

    As if I needed another reason to hate the UN, but here we are.

  19. Bjorn Lomborg was right!!!1!

    (Sorry, that’s one of the things that keeps popping in my brain everytime I hear the newest death toll number.)

  20. good ol jan says:
    “There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy,” he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe “believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It’s not true. They want to give more.”

    the wash times says this: “saying there would be more available if taxes were raised. ”

    there’s no quotation in the article that’s attributed to the jan-meister that says this. as much as i don’t like the un, the times appears to be engaging in wonton un bashing (however fun that is, don’t ruin the bashing by crying wolf here)

  21. U-GHA Egeland would seem to be backpedaling:

    Today, Mr. Egeland said his remarks had been misinterpreted, that he was not referring to any particular country, and that the initial American contribution “is one of the most generous pledges so far.”

    Mr. Egeland was referring to the United States donation of some $15 million announced on Monday. Today, the State Department said the United States Agency for International Development had decided to send an additional $20 million, and that future contributions were certain.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/28/politics/28cnd-aid.html

    What I am curious about, and never sem to see reported, is a comparison of international aid given by the sum of private and governmental sources per country, with per capita info. I don’t know if private giving in the U.S. fully makes up for the smaller % of taxpayer-supplied aid, but I have a hunch it might come close.

    Sec’y. Powell also makes a good point regarding the U.S.’s contribution of airlift capability to get supplies, from whatever sources, to the stricken areas. The U.S. military has a unique advantage in those resources and skills.

    Kevin

  22. The communications breakdown was tragic.What happened to cell phones,laptops,ham radios,weather radios,emergency warning systems,tv news,police radios,shipbboard radios(ship to shore)fishing vessels,earthquake warning systems,big bucks global orbiting satellites,telephones,airplanes,coast guards? Who was minding the store and who was fast asleep?

  23. Ladies, totally free dating, 24/7! http://www.matchdoctor.com
    Just what the doctor ordered!

  24. Since tsunami haven’t struck the South Asian area for centuries, most people probably don’t know what it is, and therefore will also be curious when they see the wave is receding and the live fishes being thrown onto the beaches, not knowing it’s a sign to literally run for the hills.

    Frankly the problem is that in human beings, curiousity is stronger than the sense of danger especially in regards to nature. We also enjoy the “thrill” of danger, if not the danger itself because sometimes we think that the “possible” danger, that 1 in a million, will never be us. I have relatives back in Hong Kong who have a habit of going up to the harbour to watch the ocean during a storm, it is a wonderous slight afterall when it’s not deadly. There is also something hynoptic about the waves going back and forth.

  25. Note from BBC website about Sri Lanka’s wildlife:

    >>Also, naturalists on the island said large-scale animal deaths appear to have been avoided, with many sensing the approach of the wave and fleeing to high ground.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.