December 2004 tsunami: 17 years on, how prepared is India for another such disaster?

On this unfortunate day, a 100-foot-high wave, which was triggered by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, hit 14 countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia.

FP Trending December 26, 2021 07:00:53 IST
December 2004 tsunami: 17 years on, how prepared is India for another such disaster?

Representational image. AFP

This year, on 26 December, the country will observe and mark the 17th anniversary of  the 2004 tsunami, that killed more than 2,27,000 people in South Asia.

On this unfortunate day, a 100-foot-high wave, which was triggered by a 9.1 magnitude earthquake, hit 14 countries including Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia. This tsunami, with its epicentre near Sumatra in Indonesia, has been termed as one of the most destructive tidal waves that have been recorded so far.

What is a Tsunami?

The term “tsunami” is derived from Japanese words "tsu" meaning (harbour) and "nami" meaning (wave). A tsunami is a series of massive waves that are created by a disturbance below or near the ocean, such as a landslide, earthquake or volcanic eruption. Furthermore, tsunamis are also called seismic sea waves or catastrophic ocean waves.

How does a Tsunami originate? 

Tsunamis can be caused by volcanic eruptions, coastal rock falls, submarine landslides, or even if a large asteroid impacts the ocean. According to reports, these waves hit the shore every 5 to 60 minutes, so whenever such a calamity occurs people in coastal areas are advised to vacate the place or migrate to a safer zone for some time.

How had India changed its approach to tsunamis after the 2004 disaster?

After the December 2004 tsunami, scientists in India have made research-based modifications in terms of technology in order to better predict such an occurrence in the future. Through a 24x7 operational tsunami warning system, tide gauges and real-time seismic monitoring with Bottom Pressure Recorders (BPR),  scientists can issue early warnings regarding tsunamis and help people vacate the area swiftly.

Established at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Sciences, the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) conducts regular training workshops and mock exercises to increase awareness about the seismic tidal waves, as per a Press Information Bureau release.

Moreover, a community programme known as Tsunami Ready has also been set up by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, according to Hindustan Times. Through this programme, the global body promotes tsunami preparedness among the general public, community leaders, and local emergency management agencies.

 

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