Strongest earthquake in 40 years hits Southeast Asia
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Indian Ocean - The death toll continues to grow and millions face a homeless life in the new year as coastal communities in south Asia struggle against continued aftershocks and flooding caused by the largest earthquake to strike the planet in more than a generation.
The magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake struck off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004, at 00:58:50 UTC (or 07:58:50 local time in Jakarta and Bangkok).
The earthquake was the strongest in the world since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake which struck Alaska, USA in 1964, and the fourth largest since 1900. More than 140,000 deaths were caused by resulting tsunami, which in Thailand were up to 10 meters (33 feet) tall, and struck within three hours of the initial event.
Multiple tsunamis struck and ravaged coastal regions all over the Indian Ocean, devastating regions including the Indonesian province of Aceh, the coast of Sri Lanka, coastal areas of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the resort island of Phuket, Thailand, and even as far away as Somalia, 4,100 km (2,500 mi) west of the epicenter.
While the earthquake and the tsunamis are no longer ongoing (other than aftershocks), the humanitarian and economic crisis generated by the disaster is still ongoing. This report will attempt to cover the crisis as it continues to develop.
Damage and casualties
|Indonesia||79,940 ||100,000 ||100,000+?||1,240 ||100,000s|
|Sri Lanka||*41,008 ||Up to 50,000||8,200+ ||4,000+ ||~1.5 million |
|India||14,244 ||15,000+||—||10,000 ||100,000s|
|Thailand||5,187 ||6,800 ||8,457 ||3,810 ||29,000+|
|Myanmar (Burma)||90 ||—||45 ||14||788|
|Maldives||73 ||—||—||31 ||6.697 |
|South Africa||2 ||—||—||—||—|
|Total||140,082||160,000+.||510,000 ||22,000+||3 - 5 million |
Note: All figures are approximate and subject to constant change. * Includes 14,000 casualties from the regions controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels.
The great earthquake triggered massive tsunamis (popularly known as "tidal waves"), which struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean. However Pacific Ocean coasts were not affected.
The Aceh province of Indonesia is the most affected. Officials in Sri Lanka estimate the death toll to be over 40,000. Much of the capital Colombo is flooded and high number of casualties are feared in the North East of the country around the town of Trincomalee. The New York Times estimated that at least 2 hours passed from the time of the earthquake before the island was affected. The tragedy has caused at least some Sri Lankans to ask what precautions could have allowed more people to avoid harm.
In India, the islands of Andaman and Nicobar and the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the most affected. The police have said that there are 100 dead in Chennai city alone. Mild tremors were experienced in Chennai, Bangalore and Cochin cities. The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh has expressed concern over the disaster and said that all directions were given to the different agencies including the Navy for quick relief work. The meteorological department has warned people in coastal areas in southern India to stay away as there are possibilities of more waves due to after-shocks for the next 3 to 4 days.
In addition to the large number of local residents, numerous tourists vacationing during the busy Christmas holiday travel season were among the victims. In a press conference on December 31, Swedish prime minister Göran Persson reported that the number of Swedes that are confirmed dead is 59 and the number of missing Swedes is 3 559. Most of these were on vacation in Thailand, primarily in Khao Lak and Phi Phi Island.
As of December 31, 2004, the death toll is estimated by the United Nations to be up to 150,000. However, water-borne diseases are expected to kill nearly twice as many people.
The quake was initially reported at magnitude 6.8 but soon upgraded to 8.5, and then 8.9 and finally 9.0. The largest recorded earthquake was the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960, at magnitude 9.5.
The hypocenter was measured at 3.298°N, 95.779°E, some 160 kilometres west of Sumatra, at a depth of 10 km underwater, within the "Ring of Fire" zone of frequent earthquakes.
The quake was felt as far away as Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Maledives Singapore and Thailand.
The earthquake was unusually large in geographical extent. 1,125 km (700 mi) of faultline slipped 15 m (50 ft) along the subduction zone where the India Plate dives under the Burma Plate. This formed a shock wave in the Indian Ocean, creating tsunamis that traveled at up to 800 km/h (500 mi/h).
Numerous aftershocks of between magnitude 5.7 and 6.1 were reported off the Andaman Islands in the following hours. Aftershocks off the Nicobar Islands were also reported, including ones of magnitude 7.3 , and 6.5 . (See USGS current earthquake information.)
Based on one seismic model, some of the smaller islands southwest of Sumatra have moved southwest up to 20 m (66 ft). The northern tip of Sumatra, which is on the Burma Plate as opposed to the southern regions on the Sunda Plate, may also have moved southwest up to 36 m (120 ft). Other models suggest that most of the movement would have been vertical rather than lateral. Further measurement is needed to determine the nature of the actual movement. The massive release of energy and shift in mass also caused the earth to wobble slightly on its axis. 
One year ago to this day, over 30,000 Iranians were killed by an earthquake with a 6.6 magnitude. The Indian Ocean Earthquake came just three days after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in a completely uninhabited region off Macquarie Island near Antarctica.
Earthquakes above magnitude 9 occur, on average, only about once every twenty years.
Post-tsunami humanitarian situation
Large amounts of humanitarian aid are needed due to widespread damage to infrastructure, food and water shortages and economic damage to the fishing and tourism industries. Epidemics are of special concern, as they are highly likely due to the high population density and tropical climate of the affected areas. The United Nations has stated that the largest relief operation in history is underway.
The overwhelming concern of humanitarian and government agencies is to quickly identify and bury the dead before they become a health issue and contribute to the spread of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, dysentery and typhoid (according to widespread but misguided belief The Times). Other high priorities are delivery of medical supplies and personnel to overwhelmed hospitals and clinics, tent shelters and clothing to people who have lost their houses and belongings, and potable water. Many usual sources of water were spoiled either by salt water, broken by the force of the tsunami, or contaminated with bodies of dead people or livestock, requiring water purification equipment or trucking potable water into the affected region.
Governments and humanitarian organisations around the world are scrambling to offer aid and technical help after the quake and tsunamis that killed thousands of people in southern Asia and northwest Africa and caused wide-spread devastation. The World Bank estimates the amount of aid needed at USD 5 billion. 
Numerous organizations are also asking businesses and individuals to contribute towards relief efforts:
WARNING: Due the nature of Wikinews, it cannot guarantee the veracity of outside links and scams involving charities are a danger. Beware of organizations that have names similar to that of well-known aid agencies.
The following countries and organization are contributing towards the relief efforts (listed alphabetically):
- Australia: The Australian Government committed an initial AUD 10 million (USD 7.7 million) to the relief effort, to be distributed to international aid organisations. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says funding will be reviewed once details of needs become clearer. Subsequently funding was increased to AUD 35 million (USD 27 million), with more expected to be required later. Essential supplies were also immediately dispatched, to be delivered by the Royal Australian Air Force.
- Brazil: Brazilian government sent 10 tons of food and 8 tons of medicines to Bangkok, Thailand, and 50 tons of potable water and food to Sri Lanka.
- Canada: The Canadian government has pledged CAD 4 million (USD 3.3 million) as an immediate contribution toward the aid effort and will also be providing blankets, water purification devices, and generators through the Canadian International Development Agency. Subsequently the relief funding was increased by an additional CAD 36 million (USD 29.7 million). In addition to the already sent planeload of relief supplies sent to Sri Lanka another planeload will be dispatched to Indonesia. The Canadian government announced a reconnaisance mission for 12 members of the Disaster Assistance Response Team to assess the need for the team to be deployed.
At the provincial level, the province of British Columbia pledged CAD 8 million (6.6 million USD) directly donated to the Red Cross. Ontario has pledged CAD 5 million (4.1 million USD) along with sending Dr. James Young-the outgoing provincial commissioner of emergency management. Dr. Young's expertise in DNA identification was used after the September 11, 2001 attacks and the September 2, 1998 Swissair 111 crash.
- Chile: The Chilean government will send six young physicians to Sri Lanka and has opened a special bank account for public donations.
- China: The Chinese government will send CNY 21.63 million (USD 2.6 million) to Southeast Asia.
- Czech Republic: The Czech government will give aid worth EUR 328,000 (USD 0.5 million), in various forms.
- Denmark: The Danish government will give aid worth EUR 1,35 million.
- European Union: The EU is provided immediate emergency aid of EUR 3 million (USD 4.1 million) for victims to meet "initial vital needs", with more substantial aid bringing the total to USD 44 million.
- Finland: EUR 575,000 (USD 0.8 million) and a field hospital will be sent from Finland to help the victims of the tsunamis.
- France: France has sent a plane with 100 rescue personnel, as well as 800 kg (1,750 lb) of medical supplies.
- Germany: The German government allocated EUR 1 million (USD 1.4 million) for immediate aid. According to information from the radio, units of the governmental technical relief organisation (THW) are going to be sent to Thailand and Sri Lanka for rescue purposes, together with drinking water purification equipment. (Raised to EUR 20 million) (7.1.2004: Raised to EUR 500 million)
- Greece: Greece will allocate EUR 300,000 (USD 0.4 million) to the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and two planes will carry to those countries over 6 tons of humanitarian materials.
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS): In Geneva, the IFRCS appealed for CHF 7.5 million (about USD 6.6 million) for "immediate support" to an estimated 500,000 survivors.
- Ireland: The Irish government pledges EUR 1 million (USD 1.4 million) in response to the earthquake-caused disaster in South Asia.
- Israel: Israel has sent baby food and medicines worth some USD 100,000 to the affected countries. In addition, an Israeli medical team was dispatched to Sri Lanka. An offer of assistance to India in the form of a search and rescue team as well as food and medicines has been extended. 
- Japan: The Japanese government has allocated USD 500 million for relief efforts, the largest contribution by any single donor.
- Kuwait: The Kuwaiti government has donated at KWD 500,000 (USD 1.7 million) as humanitarian aid.
- Luxembourg has announced it will donate at least EUR 200,000 (USD 0.3 million) as humanitarian aid.
- Médecins Sans Frontières: MSF is dispatching 32 tons of relief supplies to Sumatra; medical and assessment teams have been sent to many of the affected areas.
- Mozambique: One of the poorest nations in the world has donated USD 100 000 to the relief efforts , saying that the "symbolic" amount was because the disaster reminded Mozambicans of their past troubles, and the help they received from the international community then.
- Netherlands: The Dutch government has reserved EUR 2 million (USD 2.7 million) for aid to the affected area. The Dutch Red Cross has dedicated EUR 100,000 (USD 0.1 million) for emergency aid.
- New Zealand: The New Zealand government announced it will donate NZD 500,000 (USD 0.4 million) to the Red Cross, and an airforce C-130 Hercules has been sent for evacuation and transport of relief supplies.
- Norway: The Norwegian government has allocated NOK 1100 million (USD 180 million) to be distributed to the UN, the Red Cross and other aid organisations.
- Pakistan: The government of Pakistan has announced a PKR 10 million (USD 0.2 million) relief package for the earthquake victims of Sri Lanka. This consists of goods such as tents, medicines, drinking water and food items. Additional aid has been promised.
- Singapore: The Singaporean government has pledged SGD 500,000 (USD 0.3 million) to the Singapore Red Cross Society to help them start an appeal for public donations. A Singapore Armed Forces medical team is on standby to fly to Indonesia to help. Singapore is also dispatching an emergency consular team to Phuket and sending SGD 2 million (USD 1.2 million)of aid to the countries affected.
- Spain: The Spanish government has allocated EUR 1 million (USD 1.4 million) to finance a first humanitarian shipment sent to the aid of the victims.
- Sweden: SEK 7 million (USD 1.1 million) are being taken from the Swedish International Development Agency, 5 million of which are channeled through the ICRC. The Swedish Salvation Army has donated SEK 1 million (USD 0.8 million). The government is also supplying tents and blankets to Sri Lanka. Further assistance to be supplied if so requested, primarily by the UN.
- Switzerland: The Swiss government has allocated CHF 1 million (USD 1.4 million). The Swiss have launched a national donation action Glückskette.
- Taiwan: The Taiwanese government has donated USD 0.25 million to Indonesia, India, Thaliand, and Sri Lanka. A team of experts has also been dispatched to Indonesia to assess damages in preparation for humanitarian aid efforts.
- Turkey: Hit in August and November 1999 by a series of earthquakes that killed over 20,000, Turkey has started collecting funds, hoping to reach at least EUR 170,000 (USD 0.2 million), which will be used in reconstruction projects.
- United Kingdom: The British government has increased it's donation to $96 million. GBP 400,000 were given through the EU to the Red Cross and GBP 50,000 were donated to WHO, to help prevent maladies after the ocean surges. In addition, planes carrying essential equipment have been dispatched to some of the affected areas.
- United States: The United States government has allocated USD 350 million for relief efforts and has dispatched disaster teams to aid the affected nations.
- December 27: U.S. and U.K. governments warn citizens against travelling to areas hit by tsunamis
- December 28: Asian earthquake toll nears 60,000
- December 29: Tsunami toll passes 80,000 people as relief effort continues
- 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami - Wikinews special coverage
- Tsunami Help - South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami news and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.
- List of earthquakes at Wikipedia
- Impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on India at Wikipedia
- 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake at Wikipedia
- Identify the deceased in Thailand. WARNING: Gruesome images of the deceased. Enter information about person(s) you are looking for, and retrieve images of persons who fit the description.
- subj @ dmoz
- Magnitude 9.0 - OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA USGS, December 26, 2004 at 00:58:50 UTC.
- Sea surges kill thousands in Asia BBC News World Edition, December 26, 2004.
- Huge earthquake wreaks havoc The Weekend Australian, December 26, 2004.
- Massive Earthquake Batters Southeast Asia Associated Press report on Fox News, December 26, 2004.
- Indonesia 8.9-Magnitude Quake Unleashes Killer Waves Bloomberg, December 26, 2004 at 1003 UTC.
- Death toll rises after quake, tsunamis strike southern Asia ABC News Online, December 26, 2004 at 1050 UTC.
- Quake, Tsunami Hit South Asia, 3,100 Feared Dead Reuters, December 26, 2004 at 1116 UTC.
- Tidal Waves Kill More Than 3,200 in Asia Associated Press report on The Guardian, December 26, 2004 at 1146 UTC.
- Sea surges reach E African coast BBC News, December 26, 2004.
- 45 maut tsunami: Ombak besar landa pantai Pulau Pinang, Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Selangor Berita Harian, December 26, 2004
- Asia battles earthquake aftermath BBC News, December 27, 2004
- Many missing as waves hit Africa BBC News, December 27, 2004
- Climbing Asian Death Toll Passes 22,500 ABC News International, December 27, 2004.
- After the devastation, the grief The Guardian, December 28, 2004.
- Tsunami kills more than 116,000 CNN, December 30, 2004 at 1607 UTC.
- United with South East Asia List of Aid organizations and info by countries.
- Tsunami States Hasten to Provide Aid, Beat Disease Reuters, December 27, 2004 at 1428 UTC.
- UN Says `Enormous' Aid Effort Follows Deadly Quake Bloomberg, December 28, 2004.
- Tidal wave disaster will require biggest relief effort ever: UN New Straits Times, December 28, 2004.
- Italian television to help via SMS and email Italian people in South Est Asia Sky TG 24
- Grassroot Stories About Tsunami Victims and Ways to Help By a SouthAsian development portal, ProPoor.
Video and Pictures of the devastation
- 5 first-person videos Torrents of video clips of the tsunami as it hit Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia. Requires Blogtorrent (free, 2.3M).
- 2 minute video of the tsunami overtaking a luxury resort.
- [http://news., 2004 at 1306 UTC.
- [http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/world/, December 26, 2004.
- Eyewitness account and links to photo galleries of aftermath of) DigitalGlobe, Dember 26, 2004
- Blog with photos and thoughts from Maldives