Tuesday, July 25, 2006

RING OF FIRE



Most of us have been so preoccupied with the 7/11 Mumbai blasts that another disaster that struck neighbouring Java has gone almost unnoticed. An earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale struck Pangandaran beach last Tuesday at about 3.30 pm..The ocean then receded. A typical preTsunami occurrence.And then the big wall of water appeared. More than 1000 people are reported to have been killed and missing.

The once idyllic ocean resort which bore the brunt of the Tsunami turned into a devastated jumble of shops,cars and dead bodies. Two meter high waves tore into the beach dragging along with it cars,fishing boats and people about 400 meters inland.Hundreds of homes were flattened and large areas of rice fields were flooded.All wooden buildings were swept away.

The infamous Ring of Fire was witness to yet another burst of seismic activity.The Ring's arc stretches from Chile to Alaska and then to Japan,South east Asia and the Pacific Islands.In the December 2004 Tsunami disaster,Indonesia was the biggest sufferer.Last year in March another Tsunami struck and killed more than 600 people.Mount St Helens in the US in 1980,the earthquake in SF in 1906 and the earthquake in Kobe Japan in 1995 are other big disasters within the sphere of the Ring.

The Indonesian government had received warnings that a Tsunami could be triggered by the earthquake but response was very slow.Within 45 minutes of the earthquake under the sea,the Tsunami struck.With no alarm systems in place,how could they have relayed the messages to those on the beach? A working detection buoy measures wind speed,temperature and barometric pressure. It could have sounded a red alert. At least 22 are required to cover all of Indonesia.Indonesia does not have a single one.More than 200,000 lives were lost in the December 2004 Tsunami.About six disasters have hit indonesia since then.And we in South East India remain very vulnerable.

How well are we prepared for another Tsunami? Hardly. And the probability of a similar disaster in the Indian Ocean is very high.The clock is ticking and we may be in for another nasty surprise.

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