Monday, December 27, 2004

Boxing Day Earthquake and tsunami

By now most people on the planet would have heard about the devasting earthquake off Aceh, Indonesia and the ensuing tsunami that caused widespread destruction and casualties throughout the Bay of Bengal. Casualties were especially heavy in South India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and Malaysia. See the Wikipedia entry of the disaster.

I first saw news reports of the Aceh earthquake on Boxing Day morning. Although the power of the quake was tremendous at Richter 8.9, I knew Singapore would not be seriously affected. As it turns out only tremours were felt in some parts of Singapore. Having gone thru a mere Richter 3 quake in Taipei (even then I could hardly stand upright), I wondered how terrible a 9 would be since the Richter scale is a log scale.

Little did I knew that by the time I switched on the BBC some 12 hours later, the tidal wave had travel 1600km across the Bay of Bengal and hit Chennai, Trincomalee and Male in the Maldives. The waves were reported to be 10m tall in some instances. The shock hit much closer to home when I saw scenes of devastation in Phuket and Penang on cable TV. Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringhi and Gurney Drive were awashed in mud and water. see Penang photos by Forest Ang.

Most governments were barely able to keep track of the casualties and provide humanitarian assistance to survivors and displaced families. The Singapore Red Cross has put up a request for donations on its website. It hopes to raise S$1 million to help the victims of the quake and tidal wave. please do what you can to help!


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