Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami in Indonesia

I can't believe the devastation that has recently taken place in Indonesia and other lands in the Indian Ocean coast. Just a few facts before I start: the earthquake was the largest in at least 40 years, registering as 9.0 and originated off of the coast of Sumatra. This earthquake shifted tectonic plates about 10 meters, displacing hundreds of cubic kilometers of water up to speeds of 500 km/hr and creating a massive tsunami with waves 4 stories tall. Seismologists say that after 7.0 earthquake magnitudes increase exponentially. At this time there is an estimated 88,000 dead in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, India, Sri Lanka, and Somalia, but approximations are above 100,000.

People could do nothing but watch as their loved ones were swept away right in front of them. Some may never know what happened to their family and friends as some of bodies have to be burned and buried without being able to identify them. In recent history, last year Dec 26th, 2003 the 6.5 earthquake killed 26,000 in the city of Bam in Iran. The world is still trying to keep up with the needs there, falling well short of the $1 billion promised (only $17m) and with tens of thousands still homeless. People from the Bay Area can remember the 7.2 San Francisco earthquake of 1989 that caused nearly $1 billion in damages, but was limited to 62 deaths. The largest recorded earthquake in history was in Chile on May 22, 1960 registering in at 9.5 and taking less than 2,300 lives.

This should prove to be an eye opener for earthquake research, just like 9-11 was for terrorism. Before 9-11, people thought that the package bombs in New York (I forget which building) threatened our security and caused unwarranted death. But after 9-11, the world saw what terrorism was really capable of and decided to take it seriously. The thing that separates the quakes in Iran and San Francisco from the quake near Indonesia is that they were land-based quakes, while the Indonesian quake took place in the ocean. Land based quakes have devastated populations in the past, but were limited to a single country. The capability of destruction of quakes on the global level comes forth in the form of tsunamis. Maybe the world will know that it's their problem too, not just the countries located in the "ring of fire."

The biggest impact of this event is all of the homeless that now roam the streets. Please donate money and/or time to an earthquake relief organization. Some are Unicef (, Oxfam (, AmeriCares (, and Network for Good ( Many organizations are taking volunteers to help pack and collect food to send abroad. I'm broke as hell, but I still donated. I mailed in my money so that they couldn't keep me on some list to call every month. If anyone knows of a place in the Bay Area where people can donate their time and/or money, please post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm proud of you for donating Matt. You have a kind heart.