Monday, December 27, 2004
A Sumatran CATACLYSM
It hit Sumatra hard and demolished entire cities. Tragedy only remains.
Yesterday at around 7:58 am a huge earthquake of magnitude 9.15 shook the seabed of the Indian Ocean, 155km off the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. The quake lasted for more than four minutes and triggered one of the biggest, most destructive tsunamis ever known, which completely destroyed the western coast of northern Sumatra fifteen minutes later. The wave also devastated nine other countries over a course of seven hours and took many of its victims by surprise, claiming well over 216000 lives.
The earthquake happened at the boundary between the Indian-Australian and Eurasian plates. Scientists believe that the Indo-Australian plate, which pushes down beneath the Burma plate, had begun to pull the other plate down with it, putting the Earth’s crust under huge stress.
It was only yesterday when a 1200km section of the Burma plate finally sprang back into place, the pressure causing the sea floor of the Indian Ocean to rise several meters, dislodging millions of tonnes of water. As a result, many low tsunami waves were produced from the disturbance to travel outward in all directions across the ocean at speeds of up to 800 kilometres per hour. As the waves approached the coastline of Indonesia and slowed down, they piled up on themselves and gained up to 30 metres in height before they crashed onto the innocent shore.
Not only were entire towns and cities swept away by the waves, but people and animals were too, and many have even drowned. Sea creatures also suffered when the tsunami struck. Fish, whales, dolphins and turtles were all swept to shore by the waves and will be left stranded when the water decides to return back to sea.
The salty water that the tsunami threw over the land contaminated natural lakes and reservoirs, and killed freshwater animals many kilometres inland.
The force of the tsunami waves damaged pipelines and factories, releasing sewage, oil and dangerous chemicals into the environment. It will take