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Monday, December 27, 2004

Tragedy

By now, I'm sure you've all seen the news reports about the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated southern Asia. To review the events: on December 26th at 7:58 AM local time, a Richter scale magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck on the floor of the Indian Ocean, 250 km west of the island of Sumatra. See the U.S. Geological Survey earthquake report (in jarringly neutral scientific language) for more information on the earthquake.

The earthquake struck at the bottom of the ocean, and therefore triggered a disturbance in the water. The only place for the disturbance to go was on the water's surface, creating tsunami (a group of giant waves). When the tsunami hit shore, they broke into a series of waves, one after the other, up to 30 feet (10 meters) high. The waves killed people in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Thailand, and the Maldives. The death toll currently stands at 22,000. Folks, that's seven World Trade Centers worth of death.

And it's only going to get worse. Entire villages were swept out to sea, leaving thousands of bodies unaccounted for. And the tsunami has left huge areas without access to clean water, meaning diseases like cholera will kill thousands more people. I wouldn't be surprised if the total death toll, including unreported deaths and deaths due to resulting famine and disease, passed 200,000 to 300,000. That would make this Asian earthquake/tsunami one of the worst disaster events in recorded history.

Every person killed in this disaster has a face and a story. This excellent article from the Sydney Morning Herald (of Australia) tells the story of one disaster victim. Read it. Now. Imagine 21,999 more like it.

Speaking as an ex-geologist, major earthquakes and tsunami like this are absolutely inevitable. An earthquake of magnitude 9 or greater strikes one or two times a century, and large undersea earthquakes always cause tsunami. What was not inevitable, however, was the large loss of life. The Pacific Ocean has an extensive system of sensors and alarms, and nearly every coastal community in Japan and Hawaii has a tsunami alarm. But there is no such system for the Indian Ocean. Maybe after this disaster, a warning system will be developed - too late for this one, but useful in the future.

I considered blogging about the disaster yesterday, but I wanted to stick to my announced schedule for finishing the A.A. series. But it doesn't really matter when or if I blog about this topic. The only thing that does matter: the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent* is accepting donations to aid the disaster victims. Their site is a little slow, which is a good sign - lots of people are donating. But go there, give it time to load, and give generously.

*The Red Crescent is the sister organization of the Red Cross that operates in Muslim countries. Since many of the countries affected are Muslim (especially Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world), the Red Crescent is coordinating much of the relief.

2 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Thanks for posting this!

For thos who want to help out... I have added some Christian mission relief links to: www.heartformissions.net

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 9:43:00 PM  
Blogger Slag said...

Paul, thanks for your comment. I'm glad to know there are so many other people in the U.S. and around the world helping with this terrible disaster.

Drekkers, check out Paul's page and the links therein. The only group I'm familiar with is the International Missions Board (IMB), which coordinates missionaries and other international work for the Southern Baptist Church. Even though I have major theological differences with the Southern Baptists, I know a few people involved with the IMB, and they do a lot of good work around the world.

I decided to give to Red Cross/Red Crescent, which I think can work more effectively in Muslim nations where supsicion of Christians is strong. But as you can see from my post and Paul's comment, there are a lot of different ways to help.

Thursday, December 30, 2004 2:38:00 PM  

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