DEATH TOLL  300,000+


Revelation 6:12-17

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo there was a great earthquake 
and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair and the moon became as blood And 
the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, 
when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it 
is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of 
their places


updated 6-6-05



A view of mount Talang, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Sumatra's coastal Padang city. A second Indonesian volcano has sprung into life after a series of terrifying quakes, intensifying fears that the archipelago's violent geological forces will unleash a new disaster.(AFP/Sri Rahayu Ningsih)


April 12 2005 at 01:18PM

Padang - A volcano on Indonesia's Sumatra island erupted on Tuesday sending hot ash high into the air and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of villagers, officials said.

The eruption was accompanied by a string of moderate earthquakes that rattled towns in Sumatra, which is still recovering from a massive December 26 quake and tsunami that killed nearly 130 000 people on its northern end.

Scientists have warned of increased seismic activity in Indonesia following the magnitude 9 quake in December as the plates that make up the earth's crust adjust.

Officials said hot ash and thick smoke spewed out of Mt Talang, which lies near the west coast city of Padang, 938km northwest of Jakarta, near the epicentre of four moderate quakes on Tuesday.

An official in the nearby town of Solok said hundreds of villagers living on the slopes of the 2 690m volcano had been evacuated so far.

"Residents within the radius of 3-4km have been evacuated to a sports stadium in a neighbouring town," Elvi Sahlan, Solok deputy mayor, said.

"The quakes and aftershocks can accelerate volcanic activity ... The quakes don't cause the eruption, but they add energy to it," Budi Waluyo, chief officer at the meteorology and geophysics office in Jakarta, said.

The volcanic activity and quakes sparked panic among residents of Padang, a city of nearly one million people, which was hit last Sunday by a quake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale.

Officials said of the quakes recorded on Tuesday the biggest measured 5.8 on the Richter scale, with an epicentre around 150km southwest of Padang.

"The four quakes we recorded overnight more or less had their epicentres in the same area in the ocean," Rasidi, another official at the geophysics and meteorology office in Jakarta.

Some Padang residents fled to higher ground, fearing a tsunami, witnesses said.

Indonesia has been hit by daily aftershocks since the quake on December 26. A quake off Sumatra on March 28 is estimated to have killed up to 2 000, many on Nias island off Sumatra's west coast.

Indonesia is a vast archipelago of some 17 000 islands that lies along the geologically active "Pacific Ring of Fire" and has more than 100 active volcanoes.

Thousands flee in panic as Indonesian volcano spews into life
Tue Apr 12, 1:15 PM ET

MOUNT TALANG, Indonesia (AFP) - A volcano spewed into life on Indonesia's disaster-blighted Sumatra island, spreading new panic after the recent tsunami and earthquakes and driving thousands from their homes.

Volcano Erupts on Indonesia's Sumatra Island

Mount Talang, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Sumatra's coastal Padang city began pumping out volcanic ash shortly before dawn, prompting scientists to urge people to move away from the fall-out zone.

More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from the volcano's slope, the Antara news agency quoted local official Bustamar saying. It said the volcano's status had been raised to "beware", one rung below full-blown eruption.

Vulcanologist Gede Suwantika described Talang's activity as "serious" saying there was a risk of molten magma and clouds of super-heated gas that burn everything in their path.

"This is what I worry, that this activity will be followed by a larger eruption that is magmatic in nature," he said.

"Heat clouds could also descend, and this is what is risky as they can reach several kilometres" he said.

An AFP photographer at the 2,599 metre (8,680 foot) volcano said a narrow road leading to the mountain was clogged by people deserting the area, which was shrouded in thick fog.

The volcano issued another outburst at 11:30 am and another at 6:45 in the evening, accompanied by a loud bang, according to a police spokesman in Solok, 40 kilometres northeast of the volcano. He said the situation was calm.

Elfi Sahlan Ben, an official in Solok, told the Detikcom news website that ash was being carried by winds further down the slopes while strong gaseous odours were permeating the air around the mountain.

The volcano's activity comes just two days after the city of Padang was gripped with fear following a powerful 6.7 magnitude quake that caused only minor damage but revived memories of last year's deadly Indian Ocean tsunami.

On Monday the city's offices and schools were deserted, with many people having left the town to seek refuge on higher ground, their unease fuelled by rumours and scientific reports of another impending disaster.

A massive earthquake struck off the southwest coast of Sumatra on March 28, killing more than 600 people on the offshore islands of Nias and Simeulue -- most of the victims crushed by collapsing concrete structures.

On December 26 last year, a 9.3-magnitude shockwave from the same geological faultline unleashed tsunamis that destroyed vast tracts of coast in Sumatra's westernmost Aceh region and left more then 160,000 dead or missing.

The Indonesian archipelago sits atop a series of faultlines where three continental plates collide with immense pressure, causing almost daily earthquakes and frequent eruptions from more than 130 active volcanoes.

Though inured to seismic activity, thousands of Indonesians, particularly on Nias and Simeulue, have been spooked by the recent quakes and rumours of another imminent disaster and have sought refuge on higher ground.

Last month a prominent seismologist said he could not rule out the risk of a third big quake off Sumatra, although the exact timing of the event could not be predicted.

According to Fauzan, a geophysicist with the meteorology and geophysics agency, Talang's eruption is directly linked to the recent seismic activity off Sumatra's shores.

"Tectonically speaking, it is true that there are links between tectonic activities in the Indian Ocean and volcanic activities in Sumatra," he told AFP.

He said the massive December quake had activated Leuser Mountain, a volcano in Aceh province along the same range of peaks as Talang, while the Nias quake had sparked activity in lake Toba, an ancient crater in Sumatra.

Talang has had at least four major eruptions, all in the 19th century, and three smaller eruptions in 1981, 2001 and 2003.




8.2 upgraded to 8.7

10 New Islands Appeared Above the Ocean
from this quake

2005/07/29 20:33 M 5.7 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 35km  2.84N  93 54E
2005/07/25 03:26 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  8.09N  91.91E

7.2 earthquake hits southern India

Temblor rattles Andaman, Nicobar islands; 

ET July 25, 2005 - 

NEW DELHI, India - A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit India’s southern Nicobar Islands on Sunday, triggering panic in the islands and prompting Thailand to issue a tsunami warning for the region devastated by December’s earthquake and tsunami. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damages.

2005/07/24 15:42 M 7.0 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  7.93N  92.15E
2005/07/23 22:53 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 40km  5.18N  94.76E
2005/07/18 02:04 M 5.6 TIMOR REGION, INDONESIA Z=  4km 10.03S 124.38E
2005/07/18 02:06 M 5.7 TIMOR REGION Z= 35km  9.69S 124.24E
2005/07/13 00:29 M 5.5 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 51km 10.41N  92.96E
2005/07/12 17:07 M 5.6 KEP. TANIMBAR REGION, INDONESIA Z= 10km  6.84S 131 36E
2005/07/11 14:36 M 5.5 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 23km  1.32N  97.20E
2005/07/09 23:59 M 5.7 SULAWESI, INDONESIA Z= 10km  1.24S 119.83E
2005/07/05 01:52 M 6.7 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.90N  97.10E
2005/07/05 21:36 M 5.5 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  3.98N  93 37E

2005/06/11 13:18 M 5.5 JAVA, INDONESIA Z= 60km  8.98S 112.21E
2005/06/10 17:42 M 5.5 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 25km  1.81N  97.05E

2005/06/03 00:42 M 6.1 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 15km  1.46N  97.10E
2005/06/03 00:42 M 5.8 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 14km  1.48N  97.12E
2005/06/01 20:06 M 5.9 ARUNACHAL PRADESH, INDIA Z= 37km 28.87N  94.60E
2005/05/21 23:01 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  5.39N  94.75E
2005/05/18 11:37 M 6.0 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 30km  5.59N  93 28E
2005/05/21 23:01 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  5.39N  94.75E
2005/05/19 01:54 M 6.7 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.00N  96.97E
2005/05/18 11:37 M 6.0 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 30km  5.59N  93 28E
2005/05/18 10:27 M 6.2 TONGA Z= 10km 15.38S 173.40W
2005/05/16 23:12 M 5.5 SUMBAWA REGION, INDONESIA Z= 36km  8.42S 117.58E
2005/05/14 10:26 M 5.5 SOUTHEAST INDIAN RIDGE Z= 10km 45.69S  96.09E
2005/05/14 05:05 M 6.9 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.56N  98.38E

2005/05/09 01:30 M 5.5 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  5.10N  94.81E
2005/05/10 01:09 M 6.4 SOUTHWEST OF SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  6.20S 103 13E
2005/04/17 21:23 M 5.7 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA Z= 21km  1.61S  99 56E
2005/04/17 13:43 M 5.5 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 25km  0.37N  97.65E
2005/04/16 16:38 M 6.3 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 43km  1.90N  97.64E

2005/04/11 06:11 M 6.1 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.17N  96.73E
2005/04/11 09:04 M 5.5 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 26km  2.09N  96.76E
2005/04/10 10:45 M 5.8 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.57S  99 57E
2005/04/10 10:29 M 6.8 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.62S  99 56E
2005/04/10 11:14 M 6.3 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.70S  99 72E
2005/04/10 11:45 M 5.5 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.64S  99 52E
2005/04/10 17:24 M 6.0 KEP. MENTAWAI REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.60S  99 69E
2005/04/08 05:48 M 5.9 KEPULAUAN BATU, INDONESIA Z= 25km  0.22S  97.72E
2005/04/07 11:46 M 5.9 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.63N  97.39E
2005/04/08 01:51 M 5.5 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.74N  97.39E
2005/04/06 11:20 M 5.6 SOUTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 77km  3.95S 102.36E
2005/04/04 04:33 M 5.5 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.68N  97.92E
2005/04/03 00:59 M 6.1 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.40N  98.27E
2005/04/01 10:37 M 5.5 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 28km  2.86N  96.33E
2005/04/01 20:32 M 5.6 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.40N  98.09E

2005/03/31 07:23 M 5.8 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 29km  1.83N  97.07E
2005/03/30 01:13 M 5.5 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 27km  1.85N  97.04E
2005/03/30 17:29 M 5.7 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 26km  2.95N  95.41E
2005/03/30 16:19 M 6.3 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 30km  3.02N  95 40E
2005/03/29 05:16 M 5.8 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.62N  96.54E
2005/03/28 19:02 M 5.8 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  1.01N  97.82E
2005/03/28 16:09 M 8.2 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.09N  97.02E
2005/03/28 18:48 M 5.5 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.73N  95.96E
2005/03/28 23:39 M 5.5 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.92N  96.34E
2005/03/28 18:30 M 6.7 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.90N  97.80E
2005/03/28 23:13 M 5.7 NIAS REGION, INDONESIA Z= 30km  0.19N  97.02E
2005/03/28 23:37 M 5.7 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.89N  96.33E


BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (March 28, 2005) - A powerful earthquake struck late Monday off Indonesia's west coast, killing nearly 300 people whose homes collapsed on them and spreading panic across the Indian Ocean that another killer tsunami was on the way.

But fears of a second tsunami catastrophe in just over three months eased within hours, as officials in countries at risk reported their coasts clear of the type of quake-spawned waves that ravaged a dozen countries in Asia and Africa on Dec. 26.

All of the deaths reported in the hours immediately after Monday's quake were on Indonesia's Nias island, off Sumatra's west coast, which was close to the epicenter.

In one town, Gunungsitoli, about 70 percent of buildings had collapsed in the market district, officials said.

''Hundreds of buildings have been damaged or have collapsed,'' said Agus Mendrofa, the island's deputy district head. He told el-Shinta radio station that at least 296 people had died in Gunungsitoli.

Nias, a renowned surfing spot, was badly hit on Dec. 26, when at least 340 residents were killed and 10,000 were left homeless.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Monday's quake at magnitude 8.7 and said its epicenter was 155 miles south-southeast of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on Sumatra island.

The quake struck just 110 miles southwest of the 9.0-magnitude temblor of Dec. 26. The earlier quake and the tsunami it triggered killed at least 175,000 people in 12 Indian Ocean nations and left another 106,000 missing.

On Monday, panic spread and sirens sounded as authorities issues tsunami alerts for six countries after the quake struck at 11:06 p.m. as many people were sleeping.

Women clutching children ran into the darkened streets of Banda Aceh, crying and chanting ''Allahu Akbar,'' or ''God is Great.'' Others grabbed small bags of clothes and fled their tents and homes for higher ground.

Another man rushed instead to the local mosque, saying ''Where can I go, you can't outrun a tsunami.''

The quake lasted two minutes and briefly cut electricity. Thousands poured into the streets, where flickering camp-fires and motorbike and car headlights provided the only lighting.

People grabbed small bags of clothes as they fled their tents and homes. Many were crying and jumping into cars and onto motorbikes and pedicabs to head for higher ground. Two women wearing prayer shawls and sarongs grabbed a fence to steady themselves.

''People are still traumatized, still scared, they are running for higher ground,'' said Feri, a 24-year-old aid volunteer who goes by one name.

Panic gripped at least one relief camp in Banda Aceh. An Associated Press photographer saw thousands fleeing their tents - but with nowhere to go, they milled in crowds along the road.

Police with megaphones asked people not to panic and return to their tents. After a while, many started moving back.

  Reaction to the Earthquake  
A man in Banda Aceh evacuates. (Reuters)
''I was getting ready for bed, and suddenly, the room started shaking. I thought I was hallucinating at first, but then I heard my neighbors screaming and running out.''
-- Jessie Chong, a Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, resident

"It felt stronger than on Dec. 26."
-- Arumugam Gopal, a resident of Penang, Malaysia

"Once I heard the police announcement, the natural reaction was to get all my family members together and leave as soon as possible."
-- Sarath Nishantha, a laborer in Sri Lanka

"It was very strong. We all ran out of the building."
-- Telephone operator in Sumatra
Sources: AP,, Reuters

In Malaysia, residents fled their shaking apartments and hotels.

''I was getting ready for bed, and suddenly, the room started shaking,'' said Jessie Chong, a resident of the largest city, Kuala Lumpur. ''I thought I was hallucinating at first, but then I heard my neighbors screaming and running out.''

Preliminary indications were that energy from Monday's quake might be directed toward the southwest, said Frank Gonzalez, an oceanographer with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle.

The only tsunami reported was a tiny one - 10 inches - at the Cocos Islands, 1,400 miles west of Australia. No damage was reported.

''It seems this earthquake did not trigger a tsunami. If it had, the tsunami would have hit the coastline of Sumatra by now,'' said Prihar Yadi, a scientist with the Indonesia Geophysics Agency. ''And if there's no tsunami on the coastline near the epicenter of the quake, there will not be one heading in the other direction.''

Nevertheless, U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. diplomatic missions in Asia and Africa went into ''battle mode'' to respond quickly to any contingency. Authorities worldwide had been slow to recognize the magnitude of the Dec. 26 disaster.

Japan's Meteorological Agency reportedly notified six Indian Ocean countries - Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, the Maldives and Malaysia - about a possible tsunami.

Officials said after the December disaster that a tsunami early warning system could have saved many lives. Such a system exists in the Pacific but has not been established in the Indian Ocean. Japan and the United States had planned to start providing tsunami warnings to countries around the Indian Ocean this month as a stopgap measure until the region establishes its own alert system.

Two aftershocks - one measuring 6.0 and another measuring 6.7 - were reported in the same region late Monday and early Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake was felt as far away as Singapore and the Thai capital, Bangkok, more than 435 miles from the epicenter.

Warning sirens blared along Sri Lanka's east coast, the government urged people to evacuate immediately to higher ground, and all-night trains traveling along the coast were suspended.

The Sri Lankan military was put on full alert and several 

naval ships were monitoring the coast, said military spokesman Brig. Daya Ratnayake. Fishermen at sea were warned not to return to shore.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga called an emergency meeting at her home with Cabinet members and went on state television to assure the country ''we are taking all precautionary measures.''

On Dec. 26, 2004.the tsunami crashed onto coastlines in Indonesia's Aceh province within 45 minutes of the massive earthquake hitting offshore, but Sri Lanka was hit several hours later after the waves traveled the breadth of the Indian Ocean.

In Malaysia, panicked residents of Kuala Lumpur and Penang fled their apartments and hotels after authorities activated fire alarms. Police evacuated low-lying coastal areas of the northern states of Penang and Kedah.

At the biggest refugee camp in Banda Aceh, people milled around the streets near the local television network, known as TVRI. Others huddled around television sets in cafes for news.

After some time, a voice on the camp intercom announced that people could return to their tents and that there was no tsunami.

Television images later showed a man yelling into a megaphone. This time, the man shouted, there was no tsunami. People could go back to their homes.

AP-NY-03-28-05 18:21 EST

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news


Major earthquake hits Indonesia   8.7

2005/03/28 16:09 M 8.7 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.08N  97.01E

Fatalities, extensive damages in Indonesian quake

Fifty people died on the island of Nias, near the epicenter of a massive 
earthquake off Indonesia, a government official told CNN.

Indonesian police say many trapped by quake

Tuesday, 29 March , 2005, 00:59
Jakarta: A huge earthquake off the coast of Indonesia has left ‘tens’ of people dead and caused extensive damage on the outlying island of Nias, south of Sumatra, an official on the island told Metro TV.

"I can say that tens of people died but I cannot be sure," Agus Mendrofa, the deputy chief of Nias island, said.

He said hundreds of houses had collapsed in the islands capital Gumung Sitoli. Many were left trapped under buildings as thousands of residents fled to higher ground.

Quake Hits Off Sumatra, Prompts Concern About Tsunami 

March 29. 2005 (Bloomberg) -- A magnitude-8.7 earthquake struck off the northwestern coast of Indonesia, raising initial concerns that a tsunami might hit the area where waves from a Dec. 26 temblor caused widespread death and destruction.

``There has been no major tsunami observed near the epicenter,'' the U.S. government's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin on its Web site issued almost three hours after the quake, the period the agency said was the most dangerous. The U.S. Geological Survey initially measured the quake's strength as magnitude 8.2.

Agus Mendrofa, a local government official, said there were deaths and injuries from falling objects like furniture in the quake on the island of Nias off Sumatra, Indonesia's MetroTV reported. India, while posting a tsunami alert, said there was no evidence of destructive waves. S.K. Swami, director of national disaster management in India's Ministry of Home Affairs, said in a telephone interview from New Delhi that ``so far nothing has been noted'' in terms of a higher sea level.

The earthquake was an aftershock of the magnitude-9 undersea quake on Dec. 26 that killed as many as 270,000 people around the Indian Ocean as waves slammed into shorelines as far away as East Africa. Indonesia's Sumatra island was the hardest hit spot in the December disaster, which devastated local economies, from the fishing industry in Sri Lanka to beach hotels in Thailand.

Ten Most Powerful

The U.S. Geological Survey said the March 28 temblor hit at 11:09 p.m. Sumatra time and was among the 10 most powerful quakes recorded since 1900. The epicenter was about 50 miles offshore. The quake was strong enough to cause a tsunami, Jill McCarthy, chief scientist on the geological hazards team, said in a telephone interview.

Sri Lanka posted a tsunami warning, Agence France-Presse cited government authorities as saying. Thailand issued a warning for provinces in the southern part of the country, Kraisorn Pornsuthee, permanent secretary of the Information and Communication Technology Ministry, told ITV television network.

Smith Thammasaroj, vice minister of the Office of the Prime Minister in Thailand, where he heads the country's recently established tsunami warning system, told Channel 7 there are no signs of a tsunami. He advised people to ``stay in a safe place just to be sure'' until 2:30 a.m. local time.

Sumatra Coast

Damage from the quake in Medan, one of the largest cities in Sumatra, was limited, the U.S. consul general told the State Department, agency spokesman Adam Ereli said in Washington. Medan is closer to the east coast of Sumatra, near the Strait of Malacca, than to the Indian Ocean.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, based in Hawaii, urged ``immediate action'' to evacuate Indian Ocean coasts up to 1,000 kilometers from the epicenter after the quake. There is not yet an Indian Ocean tsunami warning network similar to the one operating in the Pacific.

Government authorities ``can assume the danger has passed'' if no tsunami waves are seen within three hours of the quake, the center said.

The quake lasted as long as three minutes, AFP cited Indonesia's Meteorological and Geophysics Office as saying. The temblor caused power blackouts on Sumatra, AFP said.

Residents in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital of Aceh, fled by the thousands, Indonesia's MetroTV news station reported, citing its reporter on the ground.

Mona Laczo, an Oxfam aid coordinator, said in a telephone interview she felt the quake from the 23rd floor of her Bangkok hotel, saying the building swayed ``for a good minute.''

December Disaster

The disaster prompted one of the largest international relief efforts ever mounted, including U.S. Navy ships and helicopters sent in to haul food and medicine to areas in Indonesia and Sri Lanka cut off after the waves swept ashore.

The Indonesian government last week increased its estimate for the cost of rebuilding areas devastated by the disaster by 27 percent to include programs to help survivors rebuild their lives.

The December earthquake and tsunami raised the risk of another quake of more than 7 magnitude in the region because of increased pressure on the seabed, a group of seismologists said in a study released last month.

The magnitude-9 quake caused the Indian tectonic plate to slip under the Burma plate, increasing stress on the Sumatra fault line near Aceh, the study by John McCloskey from the University of Ulster and colleagues said. The research underlines the need for a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean, McCloskey said.

A United Nations-sponsored group called this month for Indian Ocean countries to create tsunami emergency contact centers by April 1. The centers would receive warnings from earthquake and tidal censors and transmit them to country officials, who in turn would pass them onto the public.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Todd Zeranski in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Edward DeMarco at
Last Updated: March 28, 2005

NDTV Correspondent

Monday, March 28, 2005 (New Delhi):

A large earthquake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra Island in the Andaman Sea late today.

The US Geological Survey said it was a major quake measuring a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter Scale.

Thai officials issued a tsunami alert, three months after the killer waves devastated parts of Indonesia and other countries in the region.

The quake occurred at 11:09 pm (local time) at a depth of nearly 30 kilometres, the USGS in Golden, Colo, said. The massive quake has been reported on the same faultline as the December tsunami quake.

Today's earthquake was felt as far north as Bangkok, Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, causing thousands of residents to flee high-rise apartment buildings and hotels.

There were no immediate reports of any casualties or damage.

Control room activated

Meanwhile, the emergency control room in the Union Home Ministry was activated following the news of the earthquake.

Top officials of the Met department were working to find out whether the quake could trigger a tsunami, official sources said.

Tsunami warning

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has issued a warning of the possibility of destructive tidal waves.

"This earthquake has the potential to generate a widely destructive tsunami in the ocean or seas near the earthquake," according to the warning issued by the centre.

Authorities in those regions should be aware of this possibility and take immediate action.

This action should include evacuation of coasts within thousand kilometres of the epicentre and close monitoring to determine the need for evacuation further away, it said.

The Andaman and Nicobar Island administration has also issued a tsunami warning. (With wire inputs)


Indonesians Search Smoldering Rubble for Survivors


Jump Below:
· Photos: After the Quake
· Quotes: Local Reaction
· How to Help

Watch Video:
Earthquake Strikes Fear in Asia

Watch Broadband Video:
Death Toll Likely to Rise
Why No Tsumnami This Time?
Witness Describes Scene

GUNUNG SITOLI, Indonesia (March 29) - Indonesians searched through smoldering rubble for survivors on Nias island Tuesday and relatives wept over the bodies of the dead after an 8.7-magnitude earthquake hammered the region, triggering a tsunami scare and killing at least 330 people. Some officials said the death toll could rise as high as 2,000.

U.N. and other relief agencies rushed to ferry aid supplies to the island, which bore the brunt of the quake almost three months to the day after an even bigger temblor nearby sent waves crashing into coastlines around the Indian Ocean's rim, killing at least 174,000 people.

Fears of a second tsunami faded Tuesday when seas failed to rise up in the hours after the overnight quake, but at least 13 aftershocks between magnitudes 5.0 and 6.1 kept nervousness high.

In Gunung Sitoli, the biggest town on the island of some 600,000 people, an Associated Press reporter saw many residents huddled around candles outside their homes, too fearful to spend the night indoors after the aftershocks that set some buildings swaying.

Budi Atmaji Adiputro, a spokesman for Indonesia's Coordinating Agency for National Disaster Relief, said rescuers found 330 bodies in the rubble Tuesday. The toll was expected to rise because more bodies were believed to be trapped in collapsed buildings, he said.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla told the el-Shinta radio station in Jakarta that the death toll could rise to 1,000-2,000, based on the amount of destruction to buildings. Other officials said the dead numbered in the hundreds, not thousands.

From the air, it appeared that about 30 percent of buildings in Gunung Sitoli were destroyed, and the island's second biggest town, Teluk Dalam, suffered significant damage.

An Associated Press Television News cameraman who landed briefly in the city said he saw at least one dead body and about four injured islanders who had yet to receive medical treatment.

At least two fires smoldered in Gunung Sitoli. About 1,000 people gathered in a large field in the town.

A soccer pitch in the town was turned into a makeshift triage center, with about 10 badly injured survivors - some of them lying on wooden doors - awaiting evacuation by relief agency helicopters. People swarmed around U.N. helicopters as they landed to deliver relief supplies.

Elsewhere, a steeple had been knocked off a church on the mainly Christian island.

In Jakarta, the SCTV network showed images from the island, including survivors weeping over the sarong-covered bodies of a child and a middle-aged woman. In another image, two men on a motorbike carried what appeared to be a body wrapped in sarongs.

In other images, survivors used their bare hands to toss away chunks of rubble from a collapsed building as smoke from fires lingered in the air.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sent condolences to the families of the dead and postponed a planned visit Wednesday to Australia, saying he would fly to Nias to assess the damage.

He said Indonesia had been offered help from around the world.

''We welcome and highly appreciate it,'' he said.

Japan and Australia offered to send troops to Nias to help with the cleanup if Jakarta asks.

U.S. officials also promised rapid assistance.

''We're applying what we've learned from the previous earthquake so that we can be prepared to be responsive quickly and in a meaningful way,'' State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Monday.

The quake damaged Gunung Sitoli's airstrip and prevented all but small planes from landing. The Indonesian military flew reporters over the island to inspect the damage.

Fishing villages dotted along the coastline and inland appeared to be largely unaffected.

The International Organization for Migration said it was sending trucks loaded with water, milk and other food items, as well as medical supplies to the Sumatran port town of Sibolga, where they will be ferried to Gunung Sitoli.

''The army and navy are mobilizing to help,'' presidential adviser Tahi Bonar Silalahi said.

Alessandra Boas, a member of an Oxfam International team sent to Nias by helicopter, said the aid group was heading further afield by motorcycle.

''The devastation is obvious as soon as you land,'' she said. ''Many of the houses here have collapsed, but it's still too early for us to get a sense of the full scale of this.''

Thousands of residents fled to the island's hills and remained there Tuesday.

''It's difficult to get information - all the government officials have run to the hills because they are afraid of a tsunami,'' presidential envoy T.B. Silalahi said.

The earthquake - which occurred along the same tectonic fault line as the massive 9.0-magnitude temblor that caused the Dec. 26 disaster - triggered panic in several Asian countries when governments issued warnings that another set of deadly waves might be about to hit.

Coastal residents from Indonesia to Thailand to Sri Lanka fled to higher ground when the alarm was raised, before hearing hours later that no tsunami materialized.

In Banda Aceh, the city in Indonesia's Aceh province that was hardest-hit by the tsunami, thousands poured into the streets to flee.

''It was horrible, the only thing on my mind was how to get out of the house immediately and save my 3 1/2-month-old baby girl,'' said 27-year-old Marlina, who only uses one name, like many Indonesians.

In Sri Lanka, warning sirens blared along the nation's east coast and President Chandrika Kumaratunga urged people to evacuate.

''It was like reliving the same horror of three months ago,'' said Fatheena Faleel, who fled her home with her three children.

By dawn Tuesday, the danger had passed and all tsunami warnings had been withdrawn.

On Nias, a police officer who identified himself as Nainggolan told an Indonesian broadcaster that survivors were trying to pull people from the rubble, but more rescuers and medics were sorely needed.

In the latest aftershock, a magnitude 5.8 temblor hit off Indonesia's coast at 1:22 p.m. and was centered 217 miles south-southeast of Banda Aceh, according to Hong Kong seismologists.

Dave Jenkins, a New Zealand physician who runs the relief agency SurfAid International in western Sumatra, said he feared for about 10,000 people living on the tiny Banyak Islands, close to the epicenter of Monday's quake.

The Dec. 26 disaster also left more than 100,000 missing in 11 countries and rendered 1.5 million homeless.

Seismologists said the epicenter of Monday's earthquake was about 75 miles north of Nias. It was felt as far away as Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

AP-NY-03-29-05 14:12 EST

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.


Sumatra Earthquake Toll to Rise; AP Says 1,000 Dead (Update5)

March 30 (Bloomberg) -- Indonesian rescue workers dug through the rubble on the island of Nias, near Sumatra, today as officials said the death toll from the March 28 earthquake, now at 376, may rise by the hundreds.

The magnitude 8.7 earthquake that struck near the west coast of Sumatra killed at least 326 people on Nias, Simandjuntak, an official at the National Coordinating Body for Disaster Relief in Medan said by telephone. In Simeulue, an island northwest of Nias, about 50 died, Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters today in Jakarta. Yesterday, MetroTV reported 100 deaths there, citing an Aceh official.

The epicenter of the quake, among the 10 most powerful worldwide since 1900, was close to that of the Dec. 26 9- magnitude earthquake, which generated a tsunami that killed more than 270,000 people in 12 countries around the Indian Ocean. Sumatra and other affected areas are still struggling to recover from the December disaster.

An estimated 1,000 people were killed in the latest quake, the Associated Press reported today, citing the regional governor. As many as 2,000 people could be dead, Kalla said, repeating an estimate made by a presidential spokesman yesterday.

``The death toll will rise because hundreds of bodies are still buried under the destroyed buildings,'' Simandjuntak, the governor who goes by one name, said.

Excavators are being sent to Nias, whose Lagundri Bay made it a favorite resort for surfers, to dig bodies from under the debris, he said. Rescue and medical services by helicopters from Nias have been hampered by rain and bad weather, AP said.


``We expect to complete the evacuation of the victims in a matter of days or in one week,'' Kalla said. ``There are now 1,000 military personnel there to help the evacuation process.''

An aerial assessment of Banyak islands, which are over the epicenter, ``revealed that life appeared to be normal with little to no destruction and no visible humanitarian needs,'' the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said in an e-mailed statement. An estimated 5,000 people live on the islands, which are located between Simeulue and Nias, it said. Simeulue has a population of 77,751 people, OCHA said.

A consignment of 300 metric tons of rice, canned fish, biscuits and vegetable oil has been sent from Banda Aceh to Nias today, together with a portable warehouse, the World Food Program said in an e-mailed statement.

Food Supplies

The agency estimates that 200,000 people on Nias will need food supplies for two months, compared to 2,000 after the December disaster, the statement said. The epicenter of the March 28 quake was closer to Nias than the earlier temblor.

The World Food Program will set up an air base in Sibolga, the nearest town on Sumatra to Nias, to airdrop supplies with aircraft from Singapore and Australia, it said.

Ferries would take between 10 hours and 12 hours, said Paul Dillon, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration that yesterday sent 16 trucks to Nias.

Three helicopters and two light aircraft have been deployed in search-and-rescue missions and to ferry out injured victims to the Sibolga hospital since the hospital on Nias was destroyed, the WFP said, citing Mohamed Saleheen, its country director for Indonesia.

U.K.-based Oxfam aid agency flew in to Nias supplies at noon today, the group said in an e-mailed statement. The aid included tents for 300 people, 5,000 portions of noodles, 10,000 rations of rice, 3,000 bottles of water, 200 body bags, fuel, drugs and bandages, Oxfam said.

More aid deliveries are due later in the week, and 500,000 pounds ($900,000) worth of ``specialist'' material, including water pumps and tanks and communications equipment will be flown from the U.K. on April 1, Oxfam said.

India, U.S. Aid

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to send $2 million of aid, the government said in a statement issued in New Delhi yesterday.

The U.S. government will provide $100,000 for emergency relief, including medical teams and supplies, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said in an e-mailed statement.

``A number of U.S. government funded relief organizations are currently in Aceh and North Sumatra and are now supporting relief efforts on Nias and Simeulue islands and other affected areas by the recent earthquake,'' the embassy said.

Medical Supplies

The World Health Organization delivered 580 kilograms of medical supplies to Nias, Masood Hyder, deputy humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations, said in an e-mailed statement today. A French medical team arrived on the island and evacuations to hospitals in Sumatra started, he said.

As many as 500 tents are on their way from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, and a logistical hub was established at Sibolga, a town in Sumatra near Nias. The United Nations will send assessment teams to the areas affected, it said.

In Simeulue, ``structures most affected were those built from concrete and bricks and wooden buildings largely survived,'' the UN said.

In Nias, many injured and dead were in the main city of Gunungsitoli. Most injuries are broken bones and wounds inflicted by falling masonry, it said.

The UN Population Fund said it has provided assessments and reproductive health and personal hygiene kits to those affected on the islands, according to an e-mailed statement from Bernard Coquelin, the fund's representative in Indonesia. The UN agency has offices in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh.


There were 35 aftershocks of magnitude 4.7 or greater in the area through to 8:13 a.m. local time today, the USGS said on its Web site. The most powerful was a 6.1 magnitude shock at 1:30 a.m. yesterday, it said.

Asian governments relied on phone calls, faxes and the media to alert citizens to a possible tsunami after a magnitude 8.7 earthquake struck near Sumatra in the absence of an alert network they promised to build.

In Malaysia, adjacent to Indonesia and where about 70 people died in the December tsunami, officials received a warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning System in Honolulu that the earthquake may spark a tsunami and alerted police, Low Kong Chiew, an official at the Malaysian Meteorological Service, said. Police used loudspeakers to warn people in coastal areas.

In Thailand, the next closest country to the earthquake's epicenter where more than 8,000 people are dead or missing from the December quake, the warning was ``issued in less than half an hour after the quake which is very fast,'' Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday.

In Sri Lanka, where almost 39,000 people died from the December shock, 10 people were killed yesterday in the stampede to get away from the coast when an alert was sounded, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported today.

In India, the third-worst affected country in December with nearly 11,000 dead, officials received the warning from Honolulu and alerted state governments which used public address systems to alert coast populations, S.K. Swami, a director at the National Disaster Management division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Soraya Permatasari in Jakarta at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Adrian Kennedy in Singapore at
Last Updated: March 30, 2005 09:19 EST






2004 December 26 00:58:55 UTC

Preliminary Earthquake Report
West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center/NOAA/NWS

A great earthquake occurred at 00:58:55 (UTC) on Sunday, December 26, 2004. The magnitude 8.1 event has been located OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)



Magnitude  8.1
Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 00:58:55 (UTC)
= Coordinated Universal Time
Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 6:58:55 AM
= local time at epicenter

Location  3.400°N, 95.700°E
Depth  40 km (24.9 miles) set by location program

235 km (145 miles) S of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia
330 km (205 miles) W of Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia
1620 km (1000 miles) NW of JAKARTA, Java, Indonesia
3405 km (2120 miles) SE of NEW DELHI, Delhi, India

Parameters  Nst=020, Nph=020, Dmin=>999 km, Rmss=0.98 sec, Gp=101°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=1
Source  West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center/NOAA/NWS

      yyyy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss degrees degrees km  

2005/03/26 15:40 M 6.0 BANDA SEA Z= 10km  4.91S 129.91E
2005/03/25 01:04 M 5.9 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 43km  5.52N  94.38E
2005/03/20 17:15 M 5.8 BANDA SEA Z= 27km  7.93S 124.80E
2005/03/17 23:20 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 43km  4.86N  95.03E

2005/03/14 05:11 M 5.8 MID-INDIAN RIDGE Z= 10km 27.74S  73.83E
2005/03/13 22:12 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 53km  5.56N  94.59E
2005/03/02 10:42 M 6.8 BANDA SEA Z=150km  6.54S 129.82E
2005/02/26 12:56 M 6.7 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.93N  95.56E
2005/02/24 07:35 M 5.7 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z=  5km  2.91N  95.68E
2005/02/22 17:12 M 5.6 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 26km 10.81N  91.82E
2005/02/19 14:04 M 5.5 SOUTHWEST OF SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 29km  5.76S 101 63E
2005/02/19 00:09 M 5.5 SULAWESI, INDONESIA Z= 10km  5.68S 122.11E
2005/02/19 00:04 M 6.3 SULAWESI, INDONESIA Z= 10km  5.55S 122.03E
2005/02/17 05:31 M 5.9 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 20km  4.72N  95.19E
2005/02/16 08:19 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.14N  94.23E
2005/02/15 14:42 M 6.4 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA Z= 20km  4.77N 126.34E

2005/02/09 13:27 M 5.7 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 44km  4.78N  95.16E
2005/02/09 02:45 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 26km  6.81N  92.60E
2005/02/06 06:07 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 24km  8.12N  94.08E
2005/02/06 04:24 M 5.7 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 31km 13.87N  93.64E
2005/02/05 17:35 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.15N  94.06E
2005/02/05 08:00 M 5.7 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 18km  8.12N 94.13E
2005/02/05 04:03 M 5.9 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 30km  2.26N  95.03E
2005/02/03 04:51 M 5.5 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 22km  5.62N 93.28E
2005/02/01 14:15 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 24km  5.23N  94.62E
2005/02/01 10:35 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 35km  9.97N  94.01E
2005/01/30 15:33 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 16km  8.13N 94.09E
2005/01/29 20:28 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 53km  7.85N  94.30E
2005/01/29 06:10 M 5.5 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 27km  3.30N 93.68E
2005/01/29 05:44 M 5.6 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 20km 13.10N 93.03E
2005/01/28 06:13 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.11N  93.96E
2005/01/28 06:10 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 42km  7.94N  94.04E
2005/01/27 16:58 M 5.8 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  7.95N  94.07E
2005/01/27 22:40 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.06N  94.09E

2005/01/27 20:09 M 5.8 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  5.56N  94.36E
2005/01/27 08:42 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  7.97N 94.30E
2005/01/27 17:40 M 6.0 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  8.02N 94.15E
2005/01/27 11:47 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 37km  8.10N 93.98E
2005/01/27 18:52 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  7.88N  94.08E
2005/01/27 06:56 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  7.99N 94.05E
2005/01/27 08:19 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  7.97N 94.02E
2005/01/26 22:00 M 6.1 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  2.91N 94.43E

2005/01/26 17:30 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 26km  8.30N 93.98E
2005/01/24 04:16 M 6.3 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  7.37N  92.45E
2005/01/23 20:10 M 6.1 SULAWESI, INDONESIA Z= 10km  1.25S 119.79E
2005/01/23 03:32 M 5.5 MID-INDIAN RIDGE Z= 10km 13.69S  66.12E
2005/01/22 20:30 M 6.4 SOLOMON ISLANDS Z= 10km  7.72S 159.49E
2005/01/22 11:27 M 5.5 KERMADEC ISLANDS REGION Z=  4km 31.64S 177.98W
2005/01/22 18:38 M 5.5 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km 14.68N 92.67E
2005/01/20 16:47 M 5.6 KEPULAUAN TALAUD, INDONESIA Z= 10km  3.82N 126.75E
2005/01/17 10:50 M 5.9 STATE OF YAP, MICRONESIA Z= 10km 11.01N 140.63E
2005/01/17 10:50 M 6.1 STATE OF YAP, MICRONESIA Z= 10km 11.01N 140.63E
2005/01/16 20:17 M 6.6 STATE OF YAP, MICRONESIA Z= 55km 10.95N 140.77E

2005/01/15 13:46 M 5.6 SUNDA STRAIT, INDONESIA Z= 15km  6.42S 105.18E
2005/01/12 13:58 M 5.7 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 34km  5.54N  94.64E
2005/01/09 17:16 M 5.5 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 30km  3.25N 94.23E
2005/01/09 22:12 M 6.2 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 14km  4.97N  95.13E
2005/01/07 10:49 M 5.7 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.82N 93.57E
2005/01/06 00:56 M 6.2 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 22km  5.31N  94.82E
2005/01/06 00:11 M 5.7 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 25km  5.59N 93.15E
2005/01/05 14:54 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 41km  5.52N  94.38E
2005/01/05 05:32 M 5.5 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 30km  3.57N 93.62E
2005/01/05 14:34 M 5.5 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 30km  5.54N  94.75E
2005/01/04 19:14 M 5.8 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km 10.60N 91.74E
2005/01/04 18:26 M 5.6 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 53km  4.98N 94.79E
2005/01/04 09:13 M 6.0 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 25km 10.67N 92.40E
2005/01/02 08:27 M 5.9 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z=  8km  3.21N 95.43E
2005/01/02 15:35 M 6.2 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  6.33N 92.80E
2005/01/01 19:08 M 5.9 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 38km  7.29N 94.35E

2005/01/01 06:25 M 6.5 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  5.05N 92.26E
2005/01/01 04:03 M 5.8 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 46km  5.46N  94.45E
2005/01/01 01:55 M 5.7 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 26km  2.87N  95.60E
2004/12/31 14:38 M 5.6 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 48km  5.11N  94.83E
2004/12/31 12:04 M 6.1 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z=  5km  6.22N 92.91E
2004/12/31 10:58 M 5.5 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 36km  5.03N  94.80E
2004/12/30 17:58 M 5.7 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km 12.23N 92.52E
2004/12/30 01:04 M 5.6 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 13km  4.23N 94.20E
2004/12/29 21:12 M 5.7 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 26km  5.20N  94.71E
2004/12/29 13:20 M 5.6 RYUKYU ISLANDS, JAPAN Z=  8km 28.89N 130.44E
2004/12/28 21:47 M 5.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  8.93N 93.74E

2004/12/29 05:56 M 6.2 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.78N 93.22E
2004/12/29 01:50 M 6.1 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  9.08N 93.86E
2004/12/29 01:39 M 5.8 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  8.20N 93.10E
2004/12/28 11:17 M 5.9 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 28km  4.71N  95.18E
2004/12/27 09:57 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  7.74N 92.69E
2004/12/27 09:39 M 6.3 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 10km  5.38N  94.71E
2004/12/27 08:37 M 5.7 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 30km  6.49N 93.26E
2004/12/26 20:50 M 5.8 MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES Z= 95km  6.31N 126.85E
2004/12/26 01:21 M 6.2 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  6.37N 93.36E

2004/12/27 20:10 M 5.8 SIMEULUE, INDONESIA Z= 10km  2.86N  95.59E
2004/12/27 14:46 M 5.8 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km 12.36N 92.50E
2004/12/27 10:05 M 5.9 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 10km  4.78N  95.12E
2004/12/27 00:49 M 6.1 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km 12.98N  92.45E
2004/12/27 00:32 M 6.0 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA Z= 10km  5.50N  94.46E
2004/12/26 19:19 M 6.2 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  2.77N  94.16E
2004/12/26 19:03 M 5.6 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  4.07N  94.20E
2004/12/26 15:12 M 5.6 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km  6.70N  93.02E
2004/12/26 15:06 M 5.7 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  3.70N  94.02E
2004/12/26 14:48 M 5.9 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km 13.60N  92.87E
2004/12/26 13:56 M 5.9 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA Z= 10km  2.79N  94.46E
2004/12/26 12:11 M 5.5 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION Z= 10km 11.59N  92.45E
      2004/12/26  11:05:00 13.54N 92.88E 10.0 6.3 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  10:19:29 13.45N 92.79E 10.0 6.2 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  09:20:01 8.87N 92.38E 10.0 6.5 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  07:38:24 13.12N 93.05E 10.0 5.8 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  07:07:09 10.34N 93.76E 10.0 5.7 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  06:21:58 10.62N 92.32E 10.0 5.7 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  04:21:26 6.90N 92.95E 10.0 7.3 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  03:08:42 13.81N 92.97E 10.0 6.1 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  02:59:12 3.18N 94.26E 10.0 5.9 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA 
      2004/12/26  02:51:59 12.51N 92.59E 10.0 6.0 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  02:36:06 12.14N 93.01E 10.0 5.8 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION 
      2004/12/26  02:34:50 4.10N 94.18E 10.0 5.8 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA 
      2004/12/26  02:22:01 8.84N 92.53E 10.0 6.0 NICOBAR ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
      2004/12/26  02:15:57 12.38N 92.51E 10.0 5.8 ANDAMAN ISLANDS, INDIA REGION
      2004/12/26  01:48:46 5.39N 94.42E 10.0 5.9 NORTHERN SUMATRA, INDONESIA 
      2004/12/26  00:58:50 3.30N 95.78E 10.0 8.9 OFF W COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA - RAISED TO A  9.0   - RAISED AGAIN TO A 9.2


ISLAMIC RELIEF WORLDWIDE RESPONSE launched an effort to get medical supplies,
tents and sanitations facilities for the victims of the earthquake. To donate, send checks to Islamic Relief, 1919 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506, call (888) 479-4968, or visit:

ASIA RELIEF, a Maryland based nonprofit organization, is accepting donations of  nonperishable food items, clothing and toys for victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka.  Cash donations are also being accepted.  To contribute, drop off donations anytime at 19409 Olive Tree Way, Gaithersburg, MD, 20879.  Contact Seyed Rizwan Mowlana at 301-672-9355 for more information.

ISLAMIC CIRCLE OF NORTH AMERICA (ICNA) Relief has established an Indonesia,
India & Seri Lanka Relief Fund to provide food, medicine, clothes, tents & other urgently needed supplies. To donate, visit or send checks to 166-26 89th Ave Jamaica, NY 11432, Tel.718-68-7028.

begun  to mobilize staff and volunteers to affected areas to assist with the immediate  needs. Emergency assessment and first-aid teams have already reached some of the affected areas.

Call 1-800-435-7669. Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

CARE Australia teams from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Thailand are traveling to affected areas to gauge the impact of the disaster. Donations can be made through the CARE Australia website  or by phoning 1-800-020-046.

Asia Tsunami Relief emergency appeal by the American Jewish World Service



Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

  which has a donation page at:

(might be slow to load)

American Red Cross at

 and mentioned to specify that you are donating to help the victims of the South Asian earthquakes and Tsunamis.

By LELY T. DJUHARI | Associated Press Writer
Posted December 26, 2004
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The world's most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into villages and seaside resorts across Asia on Sunday, killing more than 3,800 people in six countries.

Tourists, fishermen, homes and cars were swept away by walls of water up to 20 feet high that swept across the Bay of Bengal, unleashed by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake centered off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

In Sri Lanka, 1,000 miles west of the epicenter, more than 2,150 people were killed, the prime minister's office said. Indian officials said as many as 1,130 died along the southern coast. At least 408 died on Sumatra from floods and collapsing buildings. Another 168 were confirmed dead in Thailand, 28 in Malaysia and 2 in Bangladesh.

But officials expected the death toll to rise dramatically, with hundreds reported missing and all communications cut off to Sumatran towns closest to the epicenter. Hundreds of bodies were found on various beaches along India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, and more were expected to be washed in by the sea, officials said.

Copyright © 2004, Orlando Sentinel


 HONG KONG, Dec. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- About 4,000 people in Sri Lanka,India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have been killed by horrible tsunamis triggered by devastating earthquake on Sunday.

    The quake measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale jolted sea areas northwest of Indonesia's Sumatra Sunday morning, the most powerful recorded in 40 years.

    According to the State Seismological Bureau of China, the epicenter of the quake is 30 kilometers from the coast, approximately 300 kilometers from Medan and 200 kilometers from Banda Aceh.

    The death toll of Sunday tidal wave devastation which hit the eastern and southern coasts of Sri Lanka had crossed 1,500 mark bypress time while the death toll reached 454 in Indonesia, more than 1,000 in India, 5 in Malaysia, 100 in Thailand and 1 in Maldives.

    In addition to the dead, hundreds of other people were reported missing elsewhere, most of them fishermen at sea, in the region.

    Sri Lankan prime minister's office said Sunday that some 1,500 people were killed and 1 million affected as tsunami tidal waves caused by an earthquake off Indonesia smashed into the island.

    Massive sea waves crashed into coastal villages over a wide area of Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing more than 1,000 people and displacing 500,000 others, officials and hospital doctors said. The death toll was still rising, they warned.

    The tidal waves also hit the neighboring Maldives, where the authorities closed the airport.

    Maldives government officials said the waves were as high as one meter, hitting the low-lying capital Male, two-thirds of which was under water.

    In Indonesia, some 454 people were killed after the extremely powerful earthquake rocked Aceh province of Indonesia on Sunday morning.

    According to Bireun chief of district in Aceh province the figure will increase as they still look for many unidentified deadbodies.

    The officials from Biruen and Pidie districts said thousands of people had left their homes to higher areas to avoid further tremor and flood.

    Up to now, the quake has already caused some hundreds houses down, electricity cut off and bridges damaged.

    In Thailand, some 100 people died and 1,339 were injured in southern Songkhla, Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga and Surat Thani provinces, that draw thousands of visitors each year due to their world-famous beaches.

    At least 40 tourists died in Phuket island as waves had reachedas high as eight or even 10 meters before crashing into its coast.

    Phuket's famous beach town Patong was flooded with all shops, kiosks and hotels damaged by the tsunamis.

    On Phang-Nga, another popular tourist site near Phuket, people even sought refuge from the floods on rooftops. The tourists said they were relaxing on the beach when the tsunamis suddenly appeared.

    The navy has been airlifting tourists who were stranded at hotels and bungalows near affected beaches to safer areas.

    Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who had been visiting the victims of recent earthquake in Nabire district, in Papua province, had ordered authorities to handle the natural disaster and asked some ministers to visit the affected area, the state spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said.

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday voiced concern overthe earthquake and tidal waves that hit Andaman and Nicobar islands and the country's east coast, according to Indo-Asian NewsService (IANS).

    The navy has been placed on full alert and rescue and relief operations are under way in the worst-hit Andman and Nicobar as well as the coastal areas of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, officials in the prime minister's office (PMO) told media.

    Sri Lanka has called for international assistance in the face of the country's worst ever humanitarian disaster.

    According to the Sri Lankan president office, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga who was on a private visit to Britain is to cut short her visit and to return to Sri Lanka.

    In Malaysia, authorities closed some beaches to the public after 5 people were swept away from beaches near the northern city of Penang. The victims were believed to be mainly tourists and included some foreigners, said a police spokesman.

Tidal waves slam Thai resort...


Sri Lanka south, east tourist region worst-hit'...


Maldives damage 'considerable'...


7+ mag temblor jolts Bangladesh...

Aftershocks rattle eastern India...


Death Toll in Quake, Tsunami Reportedly Tops 6,300

Dec 26, 8:45 AM (ET)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - The death toll in the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Asia has topped 6,300, officials and local media said Sunday.


Powerful Indonesia Earthquake Rocks Asia

26 December 2004
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ap People look at debris that was washed by tidal waves in Madras eng 150 26dec04
People look at a car and debris that was washed by tidal waves in Madras
What may be the strongest earthquake in 40 years has struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Sunday, 7 am local, sparking deadly tsunami waves that have impacted as far away as India. Hundreds have been killed in Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Indonesia is bracing for high casualties, but little is know as telecommunications to northern Sumatra have been cut.

U.S. experts say it is the worst quake in Indonesian history and the fifth strongest since 1900.

The huge temblor, which the United States Geological Survey says measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, hit early Sunday morning in the Indian Ocean - off the west coast of Indonesia's northernmost Sumatra Island.

The earthquake caused a tsunami, or tidal wave, that hit coastal regions as far away the Maldives and including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Thailand. Hundreds of thousands of people are believed displaced.

The full extent of damage and casualties in Indonesia are still not clear. Telephone communications between Jakarta and the province of Aceh in northern Sumatra have been cut.

Andi Mallararengeng, spokesman for Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, says details of the disaster are still coming in.

"We got a report that number of victims, eight, nine, more than 20 on different cities in Aceh, like Lhokseumawe, Banda Aceh, Meulahbo, so we don't have complete information yet because the chain of information at localities in Aceh are being damaged. So we are waiting for more accurate information," he said.

President Yudhoyono has instructed civil and military authorities in Aceh to do everything in their power to rescue survivors and help families of the dead.

Aceh has suffered for years from a separatist rebellion and is currently ruled under emergency regulations. The spokesman says that the tens of thousands of troops in the province would be used to assist the victims.

Indonesia sits on the so-called "ring of fire," a highly active seismic band where plates of the earth's crust collide.


Aceh's coastal towns bear the brunt of devastation

December 27, 2004

LHOKSEUMAWE: Tidal waves swamped Indonesian towns near the epicentre of the massive undersea earthquake, killing at least 720 people and leaving scenes of devastation as the waters receded.

Most of the dead were in the province of Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra. Communications were down in coastal towns on the west coast of the island, raising fears further death and damage would be reported.

The Indonesian Government struggled to respond to the disaster in Aceh, which has for years been torn by separatist violence.

"We still don't know what's happening there because of a lack of communication," Vice-President Jusuf Kalla said.

"We're sending our two top ministers to Aceh right now. We're also preparing food supplies, medicines and makeshift shelters as emergency back-up."

Thousands of people abandoned their homes and headed for higher ground after the earthquake, centred 40km below the seabed, sent waves surging inland about 8am. At least one Indonesian coastal village, Lancuk, was almost destroyed. An Associated Press reporter in the village saw several bodies wedged in trees.

"Waves as high as two or three metres suddenly rose up in the sea," said a fisherman named Marzuki.

"The water has destroyed dozens of houses."

First Sergeant Suwarno, a police spokesman for the North Aceh region, said there were 378 dead in his district.

"The search is continuing and it is believed there are still more than 100 others killed, as many people are still missing," Sergeant Suwarno said.

Fadli Hanafiah, director of the Cut Mutia hospital in Lhokseumawe, said 83 fatalities had been confirmed, including many young children.

"Bodies continue to arrive from various areas," Dr Fadli said last night.

An officer in East Aceh district said 29 people were found dead in his area.

Earlier tolls from local officials in the Aceh district of Bireuen confirmed 95 dead, while in the neighbouring province of North Sumatra, the toll was put at 54.

"More deaths are possible," said Bireun district official Mustofa Glanggang, who said dozens more were missing.

"People are too afraid to go home. They are gathering in open places and hospitals."

Lieutenant Colonel Ali Taruna Jaya told the Metro TV station that 165 people had been killed by floods in neighbouring Pidie district.

On Nias, a sparsely populated island off Aceh's western coast, at least 42 people died in floods, police said.

In Aceh's provincial capital of Banda Aceh, nine people were swept away by giant waves, a witness told Indonesian radio.

More than 500km to the southeast of Banda Aceh, four fishermen drowned when high waves hit their boat in a river close to the coastal town of Deli Serdang, said police sergeant Ginting.


Largest earthquake in 40 years sends massive tidal waves hitting six Asian nations, killing more than 7,000

LELY T. DJUHARI, Associated Press Writer

Sunday, December 26, 2004

(12-26) 07:06 PST JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) --

The world's most powerful earthquake in 40 years triggered massive tidal waves that slammed into villages and seaside resorts across southern and southeast Asia on Sunday, killing more than 7,000 people in six countries.

Tourists, fishermen, homes and cars were swept away by walls of water up to 20 feet high that swept across the Bay of Bengal, unleashed by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake centered off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

In Sri Lanka, 1,000 miles west of the epicenter, more than 3,000 people were killed, the country's top police official said. At least 1,870 died in Indonesia, and 1,900 along the southern coasts of India. At least 198 were confirmed dead in Thailand, 42 in Malaysia and 2 in Bangladesh.

But officials expected the death toll to rise dramatically, with hundreds reported missing and all communications cut off to Sumatran towns closest to the epicenter. Hundreds of bodies were found on various beaches along India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, and more were expected to be washed in by the sea, officials said.

The rush of waves brought to sudden disaster to people carrying out their daily activities on the ocean's edge: Sunbathers on the beaches of the Thai resort of Phuket were washed away; a group of 32 Indians -- including 15 children -- were killed while taking a ritual Hindu bath to mark the full moon day; fishing boats, with their owners clinging to their sides, were picked up by the waves and tossed away.

"All the planet is vibrating" from the quake, said Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute. Speaking on SKY TG24 TV, Boschi said the quake even disturbed the Earth's rotation.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude of 8.9. Geophysicist Julie Martinez said it was the world's fifth-largest since 1900 and the largest since a 9.2 temblor hit Prince William Sound Alaska in 1964.

On Sumatra, the quake destroyed dozens of buildings -- but as elsewhere, it was the wall of water that followed that caused the most deaths and devastation.

Tidal waves leveled towns in the province of Aceh on Sumatra's northern tip, the region closest to the epicenter. An Associated Press reporter saw bodies wedged in trees as the waters receded. More bodies littered the beaches.

Health ministry official Els Mangundap said 1,876 people had died across the region, including some 1,400 in the Aceh provincial capital, Banda Aceh. Communications to the town had been cut.

Relatives went through lines of bodies wrapped in blankets and sheets, searching for dead loved ones. Aceh province has long been the center of a violent insurgency against the government.

The worst known death toll so far was in Sri Lanka, where a million people were displaced from wrecked villages. Some 20,000 soldiers were deployed in relief and rescue and to help police maintain law and order. Police chief, Chandra Fernando said at least 3,000 people were dead in areas under government control.

"It is a huge tragedy," said Lalith Weerathunga, secretary to the Sri Lankan prime minister. "The death toll is going up all the time." He said the government did not know what was happening in areas of the northeast controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels.

An AP photographer saw two dozen bodies along a four-mile stretch of beach, some of children entangled in the wire mesh used to barricade seaside homes. Other bodies were brought up from the beach, wrapped in sarongs and laid on the road, while rows of men and women lined the roads asking if anyone had seen their relatives.

Around one million people were displaced from their homes, Weerathunga said.

In India, beaches were turned into virtual open-air mortuaries, with bodies of people caught in the tidal wave being washed ashore.

In Tamil Nadu state, just across the straits from Sri Lanka, 1,567 people were killed, said the state's top elected official, Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa.

Another 200 died in neighboring Andhra Pradesh state, 102 in Pondicherry and 28 others in Kerala and elsewhere, according to the governments in each state.

"I was shocked to see innumerable fishing boats flying on the shoulder of the waves, going back and forth into the sea, as if made of paper," said P. Ramanamurthy, 40, who lives in Andra Pradesh's Kakinada town. "I had never imagined anything like this could happen."

The huge waves struck around breakfast time on the beaches of Thailand's beach resorts -- probably Asia's most popular holiday destination at this time of year, particularly for Europeans fleeing the winter cold -- wiping out bungalows, boats and cars, sweeping away sunbathers and snorkelers, witnesses said.

"Initially we just heard a bang, a really loud bang," Gerrard Donnelly of Britain, a guest at Phuket island's Holiday Inn, told Britain's Sky News. "We initially thought it was a terrorist attack, then the wave came and we just kept running upstairs to get on as high ground as we could."

"People that were snorkeling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach, and people that were sunbathing got washed into the sea," said Simon Clark, 29, a photographer from London vacationing on Ngai island.

On Phi Phi island -- where "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed -- 200 bungalows at two resorts were swept out to sea.

"I am afraid that there will be a high figure of foreigners missing in the sea and also my staff," said Chan Marongtaechar, owner of the PP Princess Resort and PP Charlie Beach Resort.

Indonesia, a country of 17,000 islands, is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the margins of tectonic plates that make up the so-called the "Ring of Fire" around the Pacific Ocean basin.

The Indonesian quake struck just three days after an 8.1 quake struck the ocean floor between Australia and Antarctica, causing buildings to shake hundreds of miles away but no serious damage or injury.

Quakes reaching a magnitude 8 are very rare. A quake registering magnitude 8 rocked Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on Sept. 25, 2003, injuring nearly 600 people. An 8.4 magnitude tremor that stuck off the coast of Peru on June 23, 2001, killed 74.

Associated Press reporters Dilip Ganguly and Gemunu Amarasinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka, K.N. Arun in Madras, India, and Sutin Wannabovorn in Phuket, Thailand, contributed to this report. - Asia quake death toll nears 10,000 - Dec 26, 2004

Asia quake death toll nears 10,000


Sunday, December 26, 2004 Posted: 2:36 PM EST (1936 GMT)

Sri Lankan military authorities report over 3,200 people killed, most of them in the eastern district of Batticaloa


At least 2,300 killed by waves which flooded the southern coast, official media report.
More than 500 killed -- many of them in Aceh, in northern Sumatra

Thai authorities say more than 200 are feared dead, and hundreds are missing

At least three children reported killed in the high waters on an island north of the capital, Male

(CNN) -- Massive tsunamis triggered by the largest earthquake to shake the planet in more than 40 years wiped out coastal areas across Asia as far as 1,000 miles away, killing almost 10,000 people.

As the death toll climbing rapidly, Most of the fatalities were in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

The initial quake, measuring 8.9 in magnitude, struck about 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island around 7 a.m. Sunday (0000 GMT), according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.

It is the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history, according to the NEIC. The measurements have been taken since 1899.

News agencies in Indonesia reported over 4,000 dead, many of them in Aceh, in northern Sumatra, about 100 miles from the quake's epicenter,

CNN has been able to confirm only 500 people killed there but that figure is set to soar as communications and access improve to the ravaged region.

"We still haven't got any reports from the western coast of Aceh, which is closest to the epicenter, so officials are bracing themselves for a lot more bad news," said journalist John Aglionby in Jakarta.

Sri Lankan military authorities are reporting more than 3,200 people killed, most of them in the eastern district of Batticaloa. Several districts in the country's south have still not reported casualty figures, and authorities fear the death toll could rise.

Officials said thousands were missing and more than a half million had been displaced.

The huge waves also swept away a high security prison in Matara, in southern Sri Lanka, allowing 200 prisoners to escape. Eyewitnesses in the eastern Sri Lankan port city Trincomalee reported waves as high as 40 feet (12 meters), hitting inland as far as half a mile (1 km).

Sri Lankan officials imposed a curfew as night fell, and tourists were being evacuated from the eastern coasts to the capital, Colombo, which is on the west coast and was unaffected.

India agreed to assist Sri Lanka, sending two naval ships to the resort town of Galle, in the south, and Trincomalee, according to Colombo officials.

Indian aircraft will bring in relief supplies to the country on Monday.

India reeling

India itself is reeling from the aftermath of the quake and tsunamis. Indian officials said at least 2,300 Indians were killed as a result of the massive waves. A resident of Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu district -- the hardest hit area -- said he witnessed several people being swept away by a tidal wave.

Along India's southeastern coast, several villages appeared to have been swept away, and thousands of fishermen -- including 2,000 from the Chennai area alone -- who were out at sea when when the massive waves swept across the waters have not returned.

Along the coast, the brick foundations of village homes were all that remained.

Official state media said 1,725 people were killed in Tamil Nadu state. At least 300 people died in India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands, which were closer to the quake's epicenter. Most of the aftershocks have been centered off those islands.

A further 700 were missing.

Three hundred others were reported to have been killed in other states, with thousands missing, many of them fishermen at sea when the waves hit.

Paradise destroyed

Thai authorities say more than 200 are feared dead, and hundreds are missing after the massive waves swept through coastal areas, including Krabi and the popular resort islands of Phuket and Phi Phi.

One witness said Phuket's famed Laguna Beach resort area is "completely gone." The area provides 40 percent of Thailand's $10 billion annual tourist income.

Among the missing were a number of scuba divers exploring the Emerald Cave off Phuket's coast.

Phuket's airport -- which closed down when its runways flooded -- reopened, but most roads remained closed, as officials tried to assess the damage, fearing structural damage to buildings closer to the shore.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in Phuket and said the situation was "under control." He told CNN he planned to stay the night and direct rescue and relief efforts.

Eyewitnesses reported people drowning in their hotel rooms near the coast as 30-foot waves washed ashore. Others reported narrow escapes -- including one man whose alert but screaming boat driver turned their boat directly into a nearby shore. As he and his passengers scrambled up the steep beach, the waves crushed their boat.

There were also fatalities reported in The Maldvies. However, an accurate death toll has not been assessed because communications to the outlying islands have been cut off.

The earthquake is classified as "great" -- the strongest classification given by the NEIC.

NEIC geophysicist Don Blakeman said all of the tsunamis were triggered by the initial quake. Waverly Person, Blakeman's colleague at NEIC, said the tsunamis are "long over at this point," and residents and visitors should not be concerned with more high water.

One major aftershock, measuring 7.3 in magnitude, struck about 200 miles (300 km) northwest of Banda Aceh -- on Sumatra's northernmost tip -- over four hours after the initial quake, according to the NEIC. The rest of the aftershocks measured under 6.5 in magnitude.

The NEIC expects the quake to produce hundreds of smaller aftershocks, under 4.6 magnitude, and thousands smaller than that.

"A quake of this size has some pretty serious effects," he said.

He explained the quake was the energy released from "a very large rupture in the earth's crust" over 600 miles (1,000 km) long. The rupture created shockwaves that moved the water along at several hundred miles per hour.

It was the strongest earthquake to hit since March 1964, when a 9.2 quake struck near Alaska's Prince William Sound. The strongest recorded earthquake registered 9.5 on May 22, 1960, in Chile.

CNN Correspondents Aneesh Raman in Phuket, Satinder Bindra in Colombo and Suhasini Haidar in Chennai contributed to this report.

Giant walls of water leave trail death and destruction across Asia

MEDAN, Indonesia (AFP) - First the sea was sucked away from the beach. Moments later it came roaring back in a vast 10-metre (33-feet) wall of water careering at frightening speed, smashing into the coastline and sweeping away everything in its path.

Witnesses in Indonesia, where at least 4,185 people were killed as a huge earthquake sparked the tsunami, reported seeing walls of water obliterating entire villages of flimsy fishing huts along the northern coastline of impoverished Aceh province.

"According to villagers whom I talked to, the waves were up to 10 meters (33 feet) in height," said Mustofa Gelanggang, the head of Aceh's Bireuen district.

"The wave swept all settlements on the coast, and most houses, on stilts and made of wood, were either swept away or destroyed. Some areas were under between two and three meters of water for about two hours."

In Sri Lanka, among the worst hit countries with at least 3,225 dead, Waruna Premachandra was watching television when he saw people running and he heard the panicked scream: "The sea is coming inland."

The first wave swept in at a low level, but shortly afterwards the television cameraman heard a huge roar as another wave pummeled his home, forcing him to clamber onto his roof as his belongings were soaked downstairs.

"I saw houses and trees uprooted and being swept inland," said Waruna, 35, at his home 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the capital Colombo.

Several hundred metres (yards) inland, fishing boats were left marooned along with mounds of sand from the beaches when the swirling waters receded, while vehicles, some overturned, were strewn everywhere.

Stranded holidaymakers, most of them Germans, were later moved to sports stadiums, banquet halls and private homes across the island after being forced to flee their beach-front resorts along the south coast of the island, tour operators said.

Several hundred policemen were sent to Sri Lanka's worst hit coastal areas to clear roads and to speed up procedures to release thousands of bodies piled up in hospitals.

Similar scenes were played out on the western coast of Thailand, as well as in Myanmar, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and the Maldives, devastating some of Asia's most popular tourist spots.

"Suddenly this huge wave came, rushing down the beach, destroying everything in its wake," said Simon Clark, a tourist on Ngai island in western Thailand where hundreds of people were killed.

"People that were snorkelling were dragged along the coral and washed up on the beach, and people that were sunbathing got washed into the seas," the 29-year-old photographer said.

Killer tsunamis unleashed by a powerful earthquake in Indonesia wreaked similar scenes of havoc in six countries across Asia, swallowing entire villages and leaving thousands dead and many more injured or missing.

"It is like a war zone," said British tourist Nicola Barton, 33, from Croydon, south of London, who is holidaying in the Indian Ocean's paradise islands of the Maldives where two thirds of the capital island were flooded.

"It is just horrific. There are wooden sunbeds floating round the island, chairs from the restaurants and glass smashed everywhere, bulbs from the lighting. We have all got life jackets in case it happens again," Barton said.

In India a group of schoolchildren who were playing cricket on the beach when a giant wave swept them out to sea as the tsunamis swept the coasts of the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, killing at least 2,447 people.

As the waters receded, scooters and vehicles, children's toys and house appliances could be seen strewn along beaches and roads.

In the sea, cars which had been parked by morning joggers along the landmark Marina beach in state capital Madras bobbed in the water. Morgues at government hospitals were overflowing with bodies, many of them children.

"I am cursed with a long life," said 70-year-old Jayanti Lakshmi, weeping over the bodies of her twin grandsons and only son in hard-hit Cuddalore, a coastal town 250 kilometres (155 miles) south of Madras.

"My daughter-in-law and I had gone shopping so we weren't home when the sea entered our hut. I wish I had died instead of the others, my daughter-in-law would have a life -- I can't bear to watch her pain."

Those fortunate enough to escape uninjured stood on high ground looking out to sea, seemingly puzzled by the calmness of the water after the destruction unleased by the earthquake only hours earlier.


Tsunami Waves Kill Over 21,000 in Asia
Aid Workers Rush to Areas Devastated by Tsunami Waves; Millions Homeless

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Dec. 27) -- Rescuers piled up bodies along coastlines devastated by a tsunami that obliterated seaside towns in Asia and Africa, killing 21,000 people in nine countries. Hundreds of children were buried in mass graves in India, and morgues and hospitals struggled Monday to cope with the catastrophe.

The death toll rose sharply a day after the magnitude 9 quake struck deep beneath the Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia. It was the most powerful earthquake in the world in four decades.

Walls of water sped away from the epicenter at more than 500 mph before crashing into the region's shorelines, sweeping people and fishing villages out to sea. Millions were displaced from their homes and thousands remained missing Monday.

"Death came from the sea," said Satya Kumari, a construction worker living on the outskirts of the former French enclave of Pondicherry in India.

"The waves just kept chasing us. It swept away all our huts. What did we do to deserve this?"

The governments of Indonesia and Thailand conceded that public warnings came too late or not at all. But officials insisted they could not know the seriousness of the threat because no tsunami warning system exists for the Indian Ocean.

Officials said the death toll would continue to rise, and the international Red Cross said it was concerned about waterborne diseases.

Sri Lanka said more than 10,000 people were killed along its coastlines, and Tamil rebels said 2,000 people died in its territory, raising that country's toll to more than 12,000.

Indonesia reported about 5,000 deaths and India 3,000. Thailand - a Western tourist hotspot - said hundreds of people were dead and thousands more were missing. Deaths also were reported in Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Somalia, 3,000 miles away in Africa.

On the remote Car Nicobar island northwest of Sumatra, Police Chief S.B. Deol told New Delhi Television he had reports that another 3,000 people may have died. If confirmed, that would raise India's death toll to 6,000 and the overall number to 23,900.

"The Andaman and Nicobar islands have been really badly hit,'' said Hakan Sandbladh, senior health officer at the Geneva headquarters of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Offers of aid poured in from around the globe, as troops in the region struggled to deliver urgently needed aid to afflicted areas.

In Bandah Aceh, Indonesia, 150 miles from the quake's epicenter, dozens of bloated bodies littered the streets as soldiers and desperate relatives searched for survivors Monday. Some 500 bodies collected by emergency workers lay under plastic tents, rotting in the tropical heat.

"We have ordered 15,000 troops into the field to search for survivors,'' Indonesian military spokesman Edy Sulistiadi said. "They are mostly retrieving corpses.''

Refugees in nearby Lhokseumawe, many of whom had spent the night sleeping outside on open ground, complained that little or no aid had reached them. The city's hospital said it was running out of medicine.

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu reported thousands of deaths. Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa called the scene "an extraordinary calamity of such colossal proportions that the damage has been unprecedented.''

Nearby beaches resembled open-air mortuaries as fishermen's bodies washed ashore, and retreating waters left behind others killed inland. In Cuddalore, red-eyed parents buried more than 150 children laid in a mass grave that a bulldozer filled with sodden earth.

The tsunamis came without warning. Witnesses said sea waters at first retreated far out into the ocean, only to return at a vicious pace. Some regions reported a crashing wall of water 20 feet high.

"The water went back, back, back, so far away, and everyone wondered what it was - a full moon or what? Then we saw the wave come, and we ran,'' said Katri Seppanen, who was in Thailand, on Phuket island's popular Patong beach.

Sri Lanka and Indonesia said at least 1 million people were driven from their homes in each country. Warships in Thailand steamed to remote tropical island resorts to search for survivors as air force helicopters in Sri Lanka and India rushed food and medicine to stricken areas.

In Indonesia, villagers near northern Lhokseumawe picked through the debris of their ruined houses amid the smell of decomposing bodies.

One man, Rajali, said his wife and two children were killed and he could not find dry ground to bury them. Islamic tradition demands that the deceased be buried as soon as possible.

"What shall I do?'' said the 55-year-old man, who, like many Indonesians, goes by a single name. "I don't know where to bury my wife and children.''

Dozens of bodies still clad in swimming trunks lined beaches in Thailand.

In Sri Lanka - an island nation some 1,000 miles west of the epicenter - about 25,000 troops were deployed to crack down on sporadic, small-scale looting and to help in rescue efforts. About 200 inmates took advantage of the chaos, escaping from a prison in coastal Matara.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake's magnitude was 9.0 - the strongest since a 9.2-magnitude temblor in Alaska in 1964 and the fourth-largest in a century.

The quake occurred more than 6 miles deep and was followed by a half-dozen powerful aftershocks. A 620-mile section of a geological plate shifted, triggering the sudden displacement of water.

Countries around the world were touched. Italy reported 11 of its citizens had died; Norway 10; Britain four; the United States and Denmark three each; Australia, France, Sweden and Belgium two each; and New Zealand one.

Those numbers likely would rise. Sri Lanka said 72 foreign tourists were killed there, and Thailand said 35 of the dead were foreigners.

President Bush expressed his condolences over the "terrible loss of life and suffering.'' From the Vatican, Pope John Paul II led appeals for aid for victims, and the 25-nation European Union promised to quickly deliver $4 million.

Aid agencies and governments around the world began pouring relief supplies into the region Monday. Japan, China and Russia were among the countries sending teams of experts.

Jasmine Whitbread, international director of the aid group Oxfam, warned that without swift action, more people could die.

"The flood waters will have contaminated drinking water and food will be scarce,'' she said.

In Thailand, Gen. Chaisit Shinawatra, the army chief, said the United States has offered to send troops stationed on Japan's Okinawa island to assist. Thailand was considering the offer.

Tsunamis as large as Sunday's happen only a few times a century. A tsunami is a series of traveling ocean waves generated by geological disturbances near the ocean floor. With nothing to stop them, the waves can race across the ocean like the crack of a bullwhip, gaining momentum over thousands of miles.

An international tsunami warning system was started in 1965, after the Alaska quake, to advise coastal communities of a potentially killer wave.

Member states include the major Pacific rim nations in North America, Asia and South America. But because tsunamis are rare in the Indian Ocean, no system exists there. Scientists said deaths would have been reduced if one had.

12-27-04 08:07 EST

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

Earthquake moves island of Sumatra

Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Indonesia moved the island of Sumatra about 100 feet to the southwest, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

The earthquake occurred off Sumatra's northwestern tip in an active geological region and ruptured an estimated 600-mile-long stretch of the Earth beneath the Indian Ocean.

The quake was the largest since a magnitude 9.2 quake struck Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1964. It triggered the first deadly tsunami in the Indian Ocean since 1883, civil engineer Costas Synolakis of the University of Southern California said.

The enormous swells of water affected eight countries, and the death toll surpassed 23,000 by Monday morning.

Although a tsunami occasionally appears as a massive wave, more often it is like a fast-moving tide that keeps rising well past the normal high-water level. Once the water reaches its peak, it recedes rapidly, often causing even more damage.

Babu / Reuters

Tsunami survivors receive tea at a relief camp in the southern Indian city of Madras, on Tuesday.
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 9:27 a.m. ET Dec. 28, 2004

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - The death toll from the epic tidal waves that rocked 11 countries rose to around 44,000 people on Tuesday after Sri Lanka and Indonesia significantly increased their confirmed deaths.

Medical supplies, food aid and water purification systems poured into the region, part of what the United Nations said would be the biggest relief effort the world has ever seen. Millions remained homeless.

Rescuers struggled to reach remote locations where thousands more were likely killed by the deadliest tsunami in 120 years.

Bodies, many of them children, filled beaches and choked hospital morgues, raising fears of disease across an 11-nation arc of destruction.

Biggest ever relief effort
The disaster could be the costliest in history, with “many billions of dollars” of damage, said U.N. Undersecretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination. Hundreds of thousands have lost everything, and millions are living with polluted drinking water and no health services, he said.

The geographic scope of the disaster was unparalleled. Relief organizations used to dealing with a centralized crisis had to distribute resources over 11 countries in two continents.

Helicopters in India rushed medicine to stricken areas, while warships in Thailand steamed to island resorts. In Sri Lanka, the Health Ministry dispatched 300 physicians to the disaster zone, dropping them off by helicopter.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar said the United States was sending helicopters, and an airborne surgical hospital from Finland arrived in Sri Lanka. A German aircraft was en route with a water purification plant. “A great deal is coming in and they are having a few problems at the moment coordinating it.”

UNICEF officials said that about 175 tons of rice arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, late Monday and six tons of medical supplies were expected to arrive by Thursday. But most basic supplies were scarce.

Meantime, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday the United States “will do more” to help the victims and said he regretted a statement by U.N. Humanitarian Aid Chief Jan Egeland, suggesting America was being "stingy".

Initially, the U.S. government pledged $15 million and dispatched disaster specialists to help the Asian nations devastated by the catastrophe.

On Monday, President Bush sent letters of condolence and Powell exclaimed, “This is indeed an international tragedy, and we are going to do everything we can.”

In an interview on NBC“s “Today” show Tuesday, Powell said that “clearly, the United States will be a major contributor to this international effort. And, yes, it will run into the billions of dollars.”

Thousands more feared dead
Sri Lanka's government on Tuesday raised its death toll past 18,700, and feared the final death toll would reach 25,000.

"Dead bodies are washing ashore along the coast," said Social Welfare Minister Sumedha Jayasena, who is coordinating relief efforts. "Reports reaching us from the rescue workers indicate there are 25,000 feared dead, and we don't know what to do."

In Indonesia, the country closest to Sunday's 9.0 magnitude quake that sent walls of water crashing into coastlines thousands of miles away, the count rose to 19,000, a number the vice president said could reach 25,000.

"Thousands of victims cannot be reached in some isolated and remote areas," said Purnomo Sidik, the national disaster director.

India's Home Ministry said 4,371 died. But, the International Red Cross estimated around 6,000 deaths in the south Asian country.

Thailand reported 1,516 dead, among them more than 700 tourists. The Red Cross said it was concerned that diseases such as malaria and cholera could add to the toll.

Scores of people were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Maldives. Deaths were even reported in Africa — in Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles, close to 3,000 miles away.

Eight Americans were among the dead, and U.S. embassies in the region were trying to track down hundreds more who were unaccounted for.

Desperate situation
Desperate residents on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island — 100 miles from the quake’s epicenter — looted stores Tuesday. “There is no help, it is each person for themselves here,” district official Tengku Zulkarnain told el-Shinta radio station.

In Galle, Sri Lanka, officials used a loudspeaker fitted atop a fire engine to tell residents to place bodies on the road for collection. Muslim families used cooking utensils and even their bare hands to dig graves. Hindus in India, abandoning their tradition of burning bodies, asked for help with mass burials.

Soldiers and volunteers in Indonesia combed through destroyed houses to try and find survivors — or bodies. In Thailand’s once-thriving resorts, volunteers dragged scores of corpses — including at least 700 foreign tourists — from beaches and the remains of top-class hotels.

Amid the devastation emerged stories of survival.

In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found floating on a mattress soon after the waves hit Sunday. She and her family were reunited. At a Thai resort, a blond-haired 2-year-old of unknown nationality was recovering at a hospital after being found sitting alone on a road. His parents were presumed dead.

Many victims were children
Sunday’s massive quake of 9.0 magnitude sent 500-mph waves surging across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal in the deadliest known tsunami since the one caused by the 1883 volcanic eruption at Krakatoa — located off Sumatra’s southern tip — which killed an estimated 36,000 people.

A large proportion of southern Asia’s dead were children — as many as half the victims in Sri Lanka, according to officials there. A bulldozer dug a mass grave in southern India for 150 young boys and girls, as their weeping parents looked on.

“Where are my children?” asked 41-year-old Absah, as she searched for her 11 youngsters in Banda Aceh, the Indonesian city closest to Sunday’s epicenter. “Where are they? Why did this happen to me? I’ve lost everything.”

The streets in Banda Aceh were filled with overturned cars and rotting corpses. Shopping malls and office buildings lay in rubble, and thousands of homeless families huddled in mosques and schools.

In a scene repeated across the region, relatives wandered hallways lined with bodies at the hospital in Sri Lanka’s southern town of Galle. A stunned hush was broken only occasionally by wails of mourning.

The United States dispatched disaster teams and prepared a $15 million aid package. Japan pledged $30 million. Australia pledged $8 million.

Lack of warnings questioned
Officials in Thailand and Indonesia conceded that immediate public warnings of gigantic waves could have saved lives. The only known warning issued by Thai authorities reached resort operators when it was too late. The waves hit Sri Lanka and India more than two hours after the quake.

But governments insisted they couldn’t have known the true danger because there is no international system in place to track tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, and they could not afford the sophisticated equipment to build one.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard said he would investigate what role his country could play in setting up an Indian Ocean warning system.

“I know it looks like a bit like closing the door after the horse has bolted,” Downer told reporters. But he said he hoped such a system would save lives in the future.

The head of the British Commonwealth bloc of Britain and its former colonies called for talks on creating a global early warning system for tsunamis.

Egeland said the issue of creating a tsunami warning system would be taken up at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan from Jan. 18-22.

Challenge to aid workers
Indonesia’s Aceh province near the epicenter exemplified the challenge to aid workers. The government until Monday barred foreigners because of a long-running separatist conflict. Communications lines were still down and remote villages had yet to be reached.

“There is not anyone to bury the bodies,” said Steve Aswin, an emergency officer with UNICEF in Jakarta. “I heard that many bodies are still in the hospitals and many places. They should be buried in mass graves but there is no one to dig graves.”

Sri Lankan police waived the law calling for mandatory autopsies, allowing rotting corpses to be buried immediately. “We accept that the deaths were caused by drowning,” police spokesman Rienzie Perera said.

On the remote Indian islands of Andaman and Nicobar, off the northern tip of Sumatra, officials still hadn’t established communications. An estimated 3,000 deaths were not yet counted in the official toll.

Also on Tuesday, India’s government said a nuclear power plant damaged by tidal waves was safe and that there was no threat of radiation.

Rare, deadly occurrence
Tsunamis as large as Sunday’s happen only a few times a century. A tsunami is a series of traveling ocean waves generated by geological disturbances near the ocean floor. With nothing to stop them, the waves can race across the ocean like the crack of a bullwhip, gaining momentum over thousands of miles.

An international tsunami warning system was started in 1965, after the Alaska quake, designed to advise coastal communities of a potentially killer wave.

Member states include all the major Pacific Rim nations in North America, Asia and South America. But because tsunamis are rare in the Indian Ocean, India and Sri Lanka are not part of the system. Scientists said the death toll would have been reduced if they had been.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Tsunami toll likely to reach 60,000
Wednesday, 12 - 29, 2004

Nations on the Indian Ocean from Indonesia to Sri Lanka struggled on Tuesday to find and bury their dead and help the survivors of a tsunami as fears grew the final toll would far exceed the 27,700 persons reported killed.

Two days after the biggest earthquake in 40 years rocked the seabed off Indonesia's Sumatra Island, triggering waves up to 10 meters high, officials found more deaths the further they ventured into outlying areas, and said the final toll could rise above 55,000.

The United Nations said hundreds of relief planes packed with emergency goods would arrive in the region from about two dozen countries within the next 48 hours.

Bodies still littered the streets in north Indonesia, closest to Sunday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

About 1,000 persons lay where they were killed when a tsunami struck as they were watching a sports event.

“I was in the field as a referee. The waves suddenly came in and I was saved by God — I got caught in the branches of a tree,” Mahmud Azaf said, who lost his three children to the tsunami.

Hundreds of Western tourists were killed at beach resorts in Sri Lanka and Thailand, fishing villages across the region were devastated, power and communications cut and homes destroyed.

“This was the worst day in our history,” said Sri Lankan businessman Y.P. Wickramsinghe as he picked through the rubble of his sea-front dive shop in the devastated southwestern town of Galle.

“I wish I had died. There is no point in living.”

Thousands of miles of coastline from Indonesia to Somalia were battered by deadly waves. The UN said the disaster was unique in encompassing such a large area and so many countries.

Sri Lanka appeared to have been the worst hit as authorities had recovered 12,895 bodies, including at least 70 foreigners, and feared the final death toll would reach 25,000.

More than 8,500 persons were reported killed in India with many more victims expected, officials said.

Among them were about 4,000 in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, close to the epicentre of the quake, where thousands were missing after five villages were swept away, an official said.

Around 4,500 were killed in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the former French colony of Pondicherry.

In Indonesia, nearly 5,800 were killed as the country took the full force of the huge earthquake and tidal waves that swallowed entire coastal villages.

In Malaysia, 60 persons, including many elderly and children, were reported killed and at least 56 died in Myanmar.

The toll was expected to rise substantially.

At least 52 persons, including two British holidaymakers, were killed while another 68 were missing in the tourist paradise of Maldives, according to officials.

In Bangladesh, a father and child were killed after a tourist boat capsized from large waves.

Fatalities also occurred on the east coast of Africa where 100 fishermen were declared dead in Somalia and 10 in Tanzania.

With infrastructure, including latrines and water wells, in the worst hit areas in tatters, international organizations urged that the thousands of bloated corpses littering beaches, streets and makeshift morgues be disposed of quickly to stem the threat of disease.

Experts said though the risk of epidemics varied from country to country according to their standards of hygiene, hot temperatures, poor to inexistent sewerage and spoiled food provided breeding grounds for germs.

In particular, the decomposing bodies contaminating water would provide ideal conditions for water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and malaria.

Food shortages were also shaping up as a major concern, especially in the more remote parts of Asia devastated by the 10-meter-high waves that slammed into nine countries on Sunday.

In Indonesia's Aceh province, near the epicenter of the undersea earthquake that sparked the tsunamis and where up to 25,000 are feared dead, a local police chief from the cut-off town of Meulaboh suggested the worst had yet to be seen.

Across the Indian Ocean in Sri Lanka, where 12,000 persons were killed by the wall of water that smashed into the island, drinking water wells along the country's coastal regions were badly contaminated.

The worst hit town in India, Nagapattinam in southern Tamil Nadu state where at least 1,700 died, was lashed by rain Tuesday, adding to the misery of a community in ruins and where bodies continued to be washed ashore.

Hundreds of makeshift relief camps have been opened at various places in the coastal areas of India hit with tens of thousands taking shelter, according to the government.

The camps were providing free food, water and medical treatment, but the spectre of disease was looming large.

Fresh water was also a major problem on India's remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where giant waves wiped out at least 3,000 persons.

The pervasive stench of death and disease was also all-consuming in Thailand, where 2,000 persons may have died.

The UN said the biggest disaster relief operation ever staged would be needed for the victims.

Reuters and AFP

Asia Struggles as Death Toll Hits 44,000
  By Andi Djatmiko
  The Associated Press

  Tuesday 28 Decmber 2004

  BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to around 44,000.

  Emergency workers who reached Aceh province at the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island found that 10,000 people had been killed in a single town, Meulaboh, said Purnomo Sidik, national disaster director at the Social Affairs Ministry.

  Another 9,000 were confirmed dead so far in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, and surrounding towns, he said. Soldiers and volunteers combed seaside districts and dug into rubble of destroyed houses to seek survivors and retrieve the dead amid unconfirmed reports that other towns along Aceh's west coast had been demolished.

  With aid not arriving quick enough, desperate residents in Meulaboh and other towns in Aceh - a region that was unique in that it was struck both by Sunday's massive quake and the killer waves that followed - began to loot.

  "It is every person for themselves here," district official Tengku Zulkarnain told el-Shinta radio station from the area.

  "People are looting, but not because they are evil, but they are hungry," said Red Cross official Irman Rachmat in Banda Aceh, where houses and the city's shopping mall were leveled by the quake. In Sri Lanka, the toll also mounted significantly. Around 1,000 people were dead or missing from a train that was flung off its tracks when the gigantic waves hit. Rescuers pulled 204 bodies from the train's eight carriages - reduced to twisted metal - and cremated or buried them Tuesday next to the railroad track that runs along the coast.

  "Is this the fate that we had planned for? My darling, you were the only hope for me," cried one man for his dead girlfriend - his university sweetheart - as Buddhist monks held prayer nearby.

  More than 18,700 people died in Sri Lanka, more than 4,000 in India and more than 1,500 in Thailand, with numbers expected to rise. Scores were also killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives. The giant waves raced nearly 3,000 miles to east Africa, causing deaths in Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles. The Indonesian vice president's estimate that his country's coastlines held up to 25,000 victims would bring the potential toll up to 50,000.

  Europeans desperately sought relatives missing from holidays in Southeast Asia - particularly Thailand, where bodies littered the once crowded beach resorts. Near the devastated Similan Beach and Spa Resort, where mostly German tourists were staying, a naked corpse hung suspended from a tree Tuesday as if crucified.

  A blond two-year-old Swedish boy, Hannes Bergstroem, found sitting alone on a road in Thailand was reunited with his uncle, who saw the boy's picture on a Web site.

  "This is a miracle, the biggest thing that could happen," said the uncle, who identified himself as Jim, after flying from his home country to Thailand to reach Hannes at the hospital were the boy was being treated. The boy's mother and grandmother were missing, while his father and grandfather were reportedly at another hospital.
The vacationing former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was evacuated by Sri Lankan military helicopter from the hotel he was trapped by flooding in the south of the country. In Thailand, Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, who appeared on the cover of 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, was injured and her photographer boyfriend Simon Atlee was missing, Atlee's agent said.

  So far, more than 80 Westerners have been confirmed dead across the region - including 11 Americans. But a British consulate official in Thailand warned that hundreds more foreign tourists were likely killed in the country's resorts.

  Sunday's massive quake of 9.0 magnitude off the Indonesian island of Sumatra sent 500-mph waves surging across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal in the deadliest known tsunami since the one that devastated the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in 1755 and killed an estimated 60,000 people.

  Amid the devastation, however, were some miraculous stories of survival. In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found alive on a floating mattress. She and her family were later reunited. A Hong Kong couple vacationing in Thailand clung to a mattress for six hours.

  In Sri Lanka, more than 300 people crammed into the Infant Jesus Church at Orrs Hill, located on high ground from their ravaged fishing villages. Families and childres slept on pews and the cement floor.

  "We had never seen the sea looking like that. It was like as if a calm sea had suddenly become a raging monster," said one woman, Haalima, recalling the giant wave that swept away her 5-year-old grandson, Adil.

  Adil was making sandcastles with his younger sister, Reeze, while Haalima sat in her home Sunday morning. Haalima said the girl ran to her complaining that waves had crushed their castles, then came screams and water entered the home. "When we looked, there was no shore anymore and no Adil," she said.

  Death was so widespread in Sri Lanka that the government waived rules requiring an autopsy before burial. In Muslim villages in the east of the otherwise Buddhist-dominated island, some survivors, lacking shovels, used giant iron forks used for communal cooking and their hands to scrape out graves for several dozen victims, half of them children.

  "The toll is going up and I will not be surprised it reaches 20,000 to 25,000," said Nimal Hettiarchchi, director of Sri Lanka's National Disaster Management Center.

  Relief workers warned that survivors could face outbreaks of disease, including malaria and cholera. "Our biggest fear at the moment is the shortage of drinking water," said Janaka Gunewardene, a director at Sri Lanka's disaster management center, adding that waterways and well across Sri Lanka's northern, eastern and southern coasts were contaminated, said.

  A new danger emerged Tuesday: the floods uprooted land mines in Sri Lanka - a nation torn by a decades-old war with Tamil separatists in the north. The mines now threatened aid workers and survivors, UNICEF said.

  The first international deliveries of food were being delivered to ravaged areas, as humanitarian agencies - accustomed to disasters in one or two countries at time - tried to organize to help on an unprecedented geographic scale, across 11 nations.

  The disaster could be history's costliest, with "many billions of dollars" of damage, said U.N. Undersecretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination.

  A dozen trucks loaded with more than 160 tons of rice, lentils and sugar sent by the U.N. World Food Progam, left Tuesday from Colombo for Sri Lanka's southern and eastern coasts, and a second shipment was planned for overnight.

  UNICEF officials said about 175 tons of rice arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and six tons of medical supplies were to arrive by Thursday. Helicopters in India rushed medicine to stricken areas. In Sri Lanka, the Health Ministry dispatched 300 physicians to the disaster zone by helicopter.

Tsunami Death Toll Climbs to 52,000

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - Mourners in Sri Lanka used their bare hands to dig graves Tuesday while hungry islanders in Indonesia turned to looting in the aftermath of Asia's devastating tsunamis. Thousands more bodies were found in Indonesia, dramatically increasing the death toll across 11 nations to more than 52,000.

Indonesia's Health Ministry said in a statement that more than 27,000 people were confirmed killed in parts of Sumatra island, the territory closest to the epicenter of Sunday's earthquake, which sent a giant tsunami rolling across the Indian Ocean.

But the ministry said it had not yet counted deaths along the inundated and shattered towns of Sumatra's western coast, which soldiers and rescue workers were unable so far to reach _ including the district of Meulaboh, where earlier the head of another agency estimated that 10,000 people were killed.

When those regions are included in the ministry count, the death toll could rise dramatically yet again.

TV footage from overflights of Meulaboh and other parts of the west coast showed thousands of homes underwater. Refugees fleeing the coast described surviving for days on little more than coconuts before reaching Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on Sumatra's northern tip, which itself was largely flattened by the quake.

"The sea was full of bodies," said Sukardi Kasdi, who reached the capital from his town of Surang.

The west coast of Sumatra, facing Sunday's epicenter, took the brunt of both the quake and the killer waves. With aid not arriving quick enough, desperate residents in Meulaboh and other towns in Aceh began to loot, officials said.

"People are looting, but not because they are evil, but they are hungry," said Red Cross official Irman Rachmat in Banda Aceh.

In Sri Lanka, the toll also mounted. Workers pulled 802 bodies out of a train that was flung off its tracks when the gigantic waves hit. Two hundred of the bodies _ unclaimed by relatives _ were buried Tuesday in a mass grave next to the tracks, which had been lifted and twisted like a roller coaster by the raging water.

"Is this the fate that we had planned for? My darling, you were the only hope for me," cried one man for his dead girlfriend _ his university sweetheart _ as Buddhist monks held prayer nearby.

More than 18,700 people died in Sri Lanka, more than 4,400 in India and more than 1,500 in Thailand, with numbers expected to rise. Scores were also killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives. The giant waves raced nearly 3,000 miles to east Africa, causing deaths in Somalia, Tanzania and Seychelles.

And there were still zones of death where officials could not get a precise count. Sumatra's west coast was one _ another was India's remote Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located just north of Sumatra. So far, only 90 people were confirmed dead in the archipelago of 30 inhabited islands, but a police official said 8,000 people were missing and possibly dead.

Europeans desperately sought relatives missing from holidays in Southeast Asia _ particularly Thailand, where bodies littered the once crowded beach resorts. Near the devastated Similan Beach and Spa Resort, where mostly German tourists were staying, a naked corpse hung suspended from a tree Tuesday as if crucified.

A blond two-year-old Swedish boy, Hannes Bergstroem, found sitting alone on a road in Thailand was reunited with his uncle, who saw the boy's picture on a Web site.

"This is a miracle, the biggest thing that could happen," said the uncle, who identified himself as Jim, after flying from his home country to Thailand to reach Hannes at the hospital were the boy was being treated. The boy's mother and grandmother were missing, while his father and grandfather were reportedly at another hospital.

The vacationing former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was evacuated by Sri Lankan military helicopter from the hotel he was trapped by flooding in the south of the country. In Thailand, Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, who appeared on the cover of 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, was injured and her photographer boyfriend Simon Atlee was missing, Atlee's agent said.

So far, more than 80 Westerners have been confirmed dead across the region _ including 11 Americans. But a British consulate official in Thailand warned that hundreds more foreign tourists were likely killed in the country's resorts.

Sunday's massive quake of 9.0 magnitude off the Indonesian island of Sumatra sent 500-mph waves surging across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal in the deadliest known tsunami since the one that devastated the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in 1755 and killed an estimated 60,000 people.

Amid the devastation, however, were some miraculous stories of survival. In Malaysia, a 20-day-old baby was found alive on a floating mattress. She and her family were later reunited. A Hong Kong couple vacationing in Thailand clung to a mattress for six hours.

In Sri Lanka, more than 300 people crammed into the Infant Jesus Church at Orrs Hill, located on high ground from their ravaged fishing villages. Families and childres slept on pews and the cement floor.

"We had never seen the sea looking like that. It was like as if a calm sea had suddenly become a raging monster," said one woman, Haalima, recalling the giant wave that swept away her 5-year-old grandson, Adil.

Adil was making sandcastles with his younger sister, Reeze, while Haalima sat in her home Sunday morning. Haalima said the girl ran to her complaining that waves had crushed their castles, then came screams and water entered the home. "When we looked, there was no shore anymore and no Adil," she said.

Death was so widespread in Sri Lanka that the government waived rules requiring an autopsy before burial. In Muslim villages in the east of the otherwise Buddhist-dominated island, some survivors, lacking shovels, used giant iron forks used for communal cooking and their hands to scrape out graves for several dozen victims, half of them children.

"The toll is going up and I will not be surprised it reaches 20,000 to 25,000," said Nimal Hettiarchchi, director of Sri Lanka's National Disaster Management Center.

Relief workers warned that survivors could face outbreaks of disease, including malaria and cholera. "Our biggest fear at the moment is the shortage of drinking water," said Janaka Gunewardene, a director at Sri Lanka's disaster management center, adding that waterways and well across Sri Lanka's northern, eastern and southern coasts were contaminated, said.

A new danger emerged Tuesday: the floods uprooted land mines in Sri Lanka _ a nation torn by a decades-old war with Tamil separatists in the north. The mines now threatened aid workers and survivors, UNICEF said.

The first international deliveries of food were being delivered to ravaged areas, as humanitarian agencies _ accustomed to disasters in one or two countries at time _ tried to organize to help on an unprecedented geographic scale, across 11 nations.

The disaster could be history's costliest, with "many billions of dollars" of damage, said U.N. Undersecretary Jan Egeland, who is in charge of emergency relief coordination.

A dozen trucks loaded with more than 160 tons of rice, lentils and sugar sent by the U.N. World Food Progam, left Tuesday from Colombo for Sri Lanka's southern and eastern coasts, and a second shipment was planned for overnight.

UNICEF officials said about 175 tons of rice arrived in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, and six tons of medical supplies were to arrive by Thursday. Helicopters in India rushed medicine to stricken areas. In Sri Lanka, the Health Ministry dispatched 300 physicians to the disaster zone by helicopter.

LOS ANGELES, (Dec. 28, 2004) - 

The massive earthquake that  devastated parts of Asia permanently moved the tectonic plates beneath the  Indian Ocean as much as 98 feet (30 metres), slightly shifting islands near  Sumatra an unknown distance, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

A tsunami spawned by the 9.0-magnitude quake off the  northern tip of Sumatra killed an estimated 60,000 on Sunday in Indonesia,  Thailand, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and East Africa.

Satellite images showed that the movement of undersea  plates off the northern tip of Sumatra moved the Nicobar Islands and Simeulue  Island out to sea by an unknown distance, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist  Ken Hudnut said.

Although the data showed that plates more than 12 miles (20  km) beneath the ocean's surface moved dramatically, scientists will have to use  handheld satellite positioning systems at the sites to learn precisely how much  the land masses on the surface shifted, Hudnut said.

The USGS team in Pasadena, California, also was studying  more detailed satellite images on Tuesday to determine if the scraping of one  plate over another plowed up enough debris on the ocean floor to block the port  of Banda Aceh in Sumatra where international aid was headed.

Large earthquakes in the last decade in Kobe, Japan, and  Golcuk, Turkey, deformed the coastlines and rendered their ports inoperable  after the crises, Hudnut said.

The scientists have asked for cooperation from operators of  commercial satellites that can provide high-resolution images to show the extent  of damage to coastlines, he said.

12/28/04 16:15 ET

Quake's power = million atomic bombs?
Like a bulldozer in Sumatra

(AP) -- Scientists describe Sunday's  devastating earthquake off the island of Sumatra as a "megathrust" -- a  grade reserved for the most powerful shifts in the Earth's crust.

The term doesn't entirely capture the awesome power of the fourth  largest earthquake since 1900, or the tsunami catastrophes it spawned for  coastal areas around the Indian Ocean.

Despite its awesome power, the quake itself was not much of a surprise,  scientists said Monday.

Sumatra is one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world,  sitting atop one of the handful of sites where several plates of the  planet's crust overlap and grind. Colossal pressures build up over  decades, only to release in a snap.

"These subduction zones are where all the world's biggest earthquakes  are produced," said geologist Kerry Sieh of the California Institute of  Technology. "Sunday was one of the biggest earthquakes in the region in  the past 200 years."

How powerful? By some estimates, it was equal to detonating a million  atomic bombs.

Sieh and other scientists said it probably jolted the planet's  rotation. "It causes the planet to wobble a little bit, but it's not going  to turn Earth upside down," Sieh said.

Epicenter: More than 5 miles below ocean Researchers also speculated on the extent to which the jolt might have  changed Sumatra's coastline. Extensive damage and flooding was preventing  investigators from immediately reaching the scene.

Beneath the ocean, the flexible edges of the crustal plates might  shifted vertically by as much as 60 feet relative to each other. But even  that kind of displacement would lift or lower the Sumatran coast by only a  few feet or less, they said, and sea levels would not change  dramatically. 

"Basically, the run up of high tide will be just a little further up or  further back," said Paul Earle, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological  Survey. But inland, ground levels in northern Sumatra might have changed  noticeably  in places, Sieh said.

"As the block of land on top of subduction zone lurches out west toward  the Indian Ocean, you expect that area behind it to sink," he said.

Seismologists said the epicenter of Sunday's quake was more than 5.5  miles below the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Sumatra and about 150  miles south of the city of Bandah Aceh on the island's northern tip.

Beneath the ocean floor, the quake occurred along a long north-south  fault where the edge of the Indian plate dives below the Burma plate. A  sea floor feature known as the Sunda Trench marks where the Indian plate  begins its grinding decent into the Earth's hot mantle.

Complicating matters, the edges of three other tectonic plates also  bump here, with the Indian and Australian plates slowly sliding northwest  relative to the Burma plate.

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake on the island's southern tip was the most  deadly tremor of 2000, causing at least 103 fatalities and more than 2,000  injuries. Giant quakes also rocked the area in 1797, 1833 and 1861. But they were preludes to Sunday's event.

Atlantic Ocean landslide speculation
Pressed from many directions, stress built up along the fault line off  the Sumatra coast. A north-south fault ruptured along a 745-mile stretch,  or about the length of California. It started offshore, then zigzagged  inland beneath Sumatra's northern tip and up beneath the Andaman Islands  almost to the coast of Myanmar.

Similar to quakes on the San Andreas fault in California, the tremor  caused one side of the fault to slide past the other. The rupture released  energy like shock waves, especially to the east and west. 

While ground shaking damaged buildings and roads on Sumatra, the real  havoc was caused by large ocean waves in the Bay of Bengal and Indian  Ocean that were displaced by the quake. Known as tsunamis, the waves  obliterated seacoast resorts and communities as far away as Somalia in  East Africa.

By Monday, according to the International Tsunami Warning Center in  Hawaii, some energy from Sunday's waves sifted into the Pacific Basin. At Manzanillo, Mexico, waves rose more than eight feet. Minor  fluctuations were reported in New Zealand and Chile, where waves rose  between one and two feet. In the United States, Hawaii reported almost no  wave changes, while San Diego saw waves rise less than a foot.

Most tsunamis occur in the Pacific basin because it is encircled by the  "Ring of Fire," the necklace of the world's most tectonically active  spots.

Sunday's tsunami in the Indian Ocean was the first in that region  since 1883, when the Krakatoa volcano exploded.

But rogue waves can rise in any ocean, and Sunday's disaster renewed  attention on the vulnerability of major coastal cities like New York  City.

In 1999, scientists at University College London reported that if a  volcano in the Canary Islands erupted with sufficient force, it could  cause a massive landslide on the island of La Palma and trigger tsunami  waves in the Atlantic Ocean.

They speculated such a landslide would generate a "mega-tsunami" that  would inundate the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean with  a wall of water more than 164 feet high.

But other researchers in Britain discounted the prediction as the  product of a speculative computer model. They said that over the past  200,000 years there had been only two huge landslides on the flanks of the  Canary Islands and that there was geologic evidence indicating the slides  broke up and fell into the sea in bits instead of one big whoosh.

"If you drop a brick into a bath you get a big splash," Russell Wynn of  the Southampton Oceanography Centre said in a statement. "But if you break  that brick up into several pieces and drop them in one by one, you get  several small splashes."

Wynn said a multistage landslide would affect the Canary Islands, but  would not generate tsunamis capable of swamping New York.

Copyright 2004 The _Associated Press_
. All rights reserved.


Toll Exceeds 70,000 as Bodies Wash Ashore; Many Missing


Published: December 29, 2004

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, Dec. 29 - The waters that stole tens of thousands of people from the shorelines of Asia and East Africa on Sunday spewed their bodies back onto beaches, pushing the official death toll to more than 70,000. Meanwhile, scores of international rescue teams arrived hoping to stave off disease and homelessness.

With tens of thousands still unaccounted for, especially in remote regions, the toll seemed certain to continue climbing. Indonesia alone already estimates 45,000 dead and Sri Lanka more than 22,000, with 4,000 people missing.

Several thousand foreign tourists, many of them European, are among the missing.

As local officials struggled to account for the dead and missing, another challenge began to loom: heading off disease.

Rotting food and the use of outdoor toilets by the millions of people rendered homeless by the waves can all create breeding grounds for germs. The year-round tropical climes that made coastal Thailand and Sri Lanka beacons to foreign tourists are now the countries' enemies.

Even as local health officials out in the field were racing to create mass graves or pyres to deal with the rising tide of bodies, saying the bodies posed immediate health risks, officials of the World Health Organization emphasized that the biggest risk of an outbreak was posed by survivors.

The agency's officials said Tuesday that because there was little danger of epidemics from unburied bodies, immediate mass burials and cremations were not necessary. Instead, they said, family members and friends should be given time, where possible, to identify the bodies first.

Survivors in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka complained of the slow pace of national and international relief efforts, news agencies reported. But relief organizations said that given the scale of the devastation across a dozen countries, they were facing what amounted to the largest relief effort in history.

"The initial terror associated with the tsunamis and the earthquake itself may be dwarfed by the longer-term suffering of the affected communities," Dr. David Nabarro, head of crisis operations for the World Health Organization, said in Geneva, news agencies reported. Economists estimated the damage to the region in the billions of dollars.

At the same time, word of the horrors continued to filter down.

One heart-rending case discovered on Tuesday by reporters was that of a Sri Lankan train named Sea Queen carrying beachgoers from Colombo to Galle that was swept into a marsh by the flooding on Sunday, killing at least 800 people. The cars were toppled and the tracks uprooted.

In Banda Aceh in Indonesia, two days after the waves struck, thousands of bloated bodies were still being laid out in fields, morgues and mosques for identification and hasty burial. Television showed bulldozers scooping scores of bodies into crude mass graves that were little more than muddy holes filled with pools of fetid water. Workers passed out from the stench.

Aceh Province, on the northwestern tip of the island of Sumatra, was the hardest hit by both the earthquake and the resulting tsunamis. Rebels in the civil war in the region declared a cease-fire so rescue workers could gain access to those in need. Meanwhile, refugees foraged to survive, and heavy looting was reported.

In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the authorities were struggling to find housing for an estimated 100,000 people left homeless along a 130-mile stretch of coastland. Reporters described seeing doctors leave unidentified dead in the open, volunteers lift bodies with their bare hands and bodies being carted off in open carriages.

In Sri Lanka, Ramesha Balasuraya, the United Nations Development Program spokeswoman, said the country was in need of virtually everything from medicine to clothing. "It's main relief items, like water, food, clothing and drugs," she said.

An estimated 18,000 to 20,000 foreign tourists who survived the waves have descended on Colombo, the capital, according to Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry officials. The city's hotels are packed, with some tourists sleeping in conference rooms. Others are encamped in hotel lobbies, awaiting flights out of the country.

At Colombo's modern international airport Tuesday night, diplomats from various countries arrived to rescue their stranded citizens from a country that until recently was considered a nascent success story. Since a cease-fire in 2002 ended a 20-year civil war, tourism and foreign investment have soared, giving Sri Lanka a relatively stable economy and one of the fastest-growing stock markets in the world.

But as the diplomats stepped off the plane, a smiling young Sri Lankan woman in a luminous green silk sari held a sign that captured the reality of the tear-shaped island nation. Instead of a sign that welcomed a tour group, the woman's sign read, "Foreign relief teams."

The World Health Organization said that contrary to widespread belief, there was no scientific evidence that corpses caused outbreaks if they were not buried at once. Experience has shown that the risk of such epidemics is small, two members of the organization's emergency-response team, Rob Holden and Dr. Maria Connelly, said in telephone interviews.

Other experts agreed.

There is "a mind-set even among professionals in the disaster-relief community" that bodies are a principal source of outbreaks after natural disasters, said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "But the data shows that corpses are not a reason to have draconian measures that would undermine the ability of loved ones to identify bodies and go through burial rites," he said in an interview.

W.H.O. has issued guidelines recommending against mass burials after disasters. Governments should obey religious and cultural principles and traditions where possible, the guidelines say. In most countries, domestic laws specify the requirements for proper disposal of bodies.

But because the numbers of dead in the tsunamis vary widely by region, the sheer magnitude of the situation may not allow governments to follow the burial guidelines everywhere.

Dr. Connelly said that "W.H.O. is not dictating" to governments in the affected areas. "Obviously, there are certain situations where the guidelines cannot be followed," he said. "If it takes two weeks or so to conduct individual burials, then you could potentially have a public-health disease threat."

Disease transmission requires the presence of an infectious agent and exposure to it. So if bodies are infected with an organism, they can spread disease and start outbreaks.

But most infectious agents do not survive long enough in the human body after death, Dr. Connelly said. So the most likely source of outbreaks is from survivors, he said. Health officials are concerned about cholera and other infectious agents present in the affected areas.

Lawrence K. Altman contributed reporting from New York for this article.


Posted on Wed, Dec. 29, 2004

802 died on train in Sri Lanka swept off its rails

Associated Press

The Queen of the Sea chugged slowly up the sandy, palm-fringed coast of eastern Sri Lanka, carrying hundreds of residents from the capital to visit relatives or enjoy a day at the sunny resorts near the town of Galle.

The train had nearly reached its destination Sunday when the tsunami struck -- a wall of water about 30 feet high, enveloping the Queen and lifting its cars off the track into a thick marsh, killing at least 802 people.

In the utter wasteland around this once picturesque area, the train stands out -- both as a testament to the force of nature that tossed it off the tracks and as the largest single loss of life on an island that suffered at least 21,715 dead.

The train, which started from the capital, Colombo, Sunday morning had stopped at Telwatta, a village 15 miles from Galle, just before the wave came racing ashore. Many of the dead were local villagers who tried to escape rising waters by climbing on top of the train.

On Tuesday, the Queen and the surrounding area were little more than debris. Eight rust-colored cars lay in deep pools of water amid a ravaged grove of palm trees. The force of the waves had torn the wheels off some cars, and the train tracks twisted like a loop on a roller coaster.

Baggage from the train was strewn along the tracks, and some of the clothing and other items looked new, possibly New Year's gifts for family or friends.

One thousand tickets were sold in Colombo for the train, and rescuers recovered 802 bodies from the train's cars, said military spokesman Brig. Daya Ratnayake.

No relatives claimed 204 of those bodies, so they were buried in a mass grave Tuesday, with Buddhist monks performing traditional funeral rites. They chanted and poured water on the grave to symbolize the giving of merits of the living to the dead.

Venerable Baddegama Samitha, a Buddhist monk and former parliamentarian who presided over the ritual, said he realized some of the dead were of other faiths -- the region has a large Muslim community -- and a moment's silence was held to honor them.

''This was the only thing we could do,'' he said. ``It was a desperate solution. The bodies were rotting. We gave them a decent burial.''

Authorities took fingerprints of the dead so that they could be identified later if possible, he said.

At a nearby police station, officers laid out about 100 identification and credit cards, as well as drivers' licenses and bank books found at the train site. They included items belonging to an electricity board secretary, an assistant lecturer at a state research institute of social development and a student from the University of Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka.

''Police told us to come and have a look at this collection of ID cards,'' said Premasiri Jayasinghe, one of a group of people searching through the documents for those of lost loved ones. He found no sign of the three relatives he lost.

At the train site, a young man wept in the arms of friends as the body of his girlfriend was buried. The distraught man spoke out to his lost sweetheart.

''We met in university. Is this the fate that we hoped for?'' he sobbed. ``My darling, you were the only hope for me.''

The train left Colombo at 7:30 a.m. for Galle, 70 miles to the southeast, a resort with large hotels and beaches sought by weekenders. The water struck at 9:30 a.m.

It was unclear how many people survived.

Jimmy writes.......
The long term results of this quake have yet to be determined. One has to
wonder what kind of climate changes will result because of the change in
orbit. Anyone have any ideas on this? Jimmy

Sonya replies......
Good question.....and yes changes in orbit of the sun and or earth would impact climate and it is also a natural part of the process that creates the seasons of the earth.....but my understanding is that this was a transient event as it relates to the wobble that was created. However there is a theory related to the wobble of the earth called Chandler Wobble that suggest that such can be via created earthquakes.....

snip.......The Chandler wobble, discovered by astronomer S. C. Chandler in 1891, is a variation in the earth's axis of rotation amounting to 0.7 seconds of arc over a period of 435 days, or about 14 months. To put it another way, the earth's poles wander a bit as the planet spins, describing an irregular circle ranging from 10 to 50 feet in diameter. (For a chart of polar wandering over the last decade, see

The Chandler wobble is a small variation in Earth's axis of rotation, discovered by American astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler in 1891. It amounts to 0.7 arcseconds over a period of 435 days. In other words, Earth's poles move in an irregular circle of 3 to 15 metres in diameter, in an oscillation. The wobble's diameter has varied since discovery, reaching its most extreme range recorded to date in 1910. The cause is unknown: barring any external force, the wobble should have eventually subsided. Originally it was believed that the wobble was caused by weather fluctuations from season to season causing shifts in atmospheric mass distribution, or possible geophysical movement beneath Earth's crust. On 18 July 2000, however, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that "the principal cause of the Chandler wobble is fluctuating pressure on the bottom of the ocean, caused by temperature and salinity changes and wind-driven changes in the circulation of the oceans." The Chandler wobble is a factor considered by satellite navigation systems (especially military systems). It is also theorised as the cause of major tectonic activity, including earthquakes, volcanism, El Nińo, and global warming phenomenon.

Richard Gross and Ben Chao (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California, USA): Seismic Excitation of Earth Rotation and Gravitational Field

(((The moment of inertia of Earth decreased a bit due to the earthquake. Because the angular momentum is conserved, this results in an increase of the angular velocity of Earth's rotation. In other words, the earthquake shortened the length of a day by as much as 3 µs. However, due to tidal effects of the Moon, the Earth's rotation slows by 15 µs per year. So any rotation speedup due to the earthquake will have no long-lasting effect at all.  

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 (the southern regions are on the Sunda Plate), may also have moved southwest up to 36 m (118 ft). Other models suggest that most of the movement would have been vertical rather than lateral. Further measurement is needed to determine the extent of any actual movement. The massive release of energy and shift in mass may have also caused the earth to minutely "wobble" on its axis. [8] (

Astronomical Theory of Climate Change

The tilt of the earth relative to its plane of travel about the sun is what causes seasons. The hemisphere "pointing toward" the sun is in summer, while the opposite hemisphere is in winter. The earth makes one full orbit around the sun each year. The northern hemisphere is in summer in the left image, while 6 months later, the southern hemisphere has summer, as in the center image. If the earth's axis were "straight up and down" relative to the orbital plane, as in the right-hand image, there would be no seasons, since every point on the earth would receive the same amount of sun each day of the year.
Changes in the "tilt" of the earth can change the severity of the seasons - more "tilt" means more severe seasons - warmer summers and colder winters; less "tilt" means less severe seasons - cooler summers and milder winters. The earth wobbles in space so that its tilt changes between about 22 and 25 degrees on a cycle of about 41,000 years. It is the cool summers which are thought to allow snow and ice to last from year to year in high latitudes, eventually building up into massive ice sheets. There are positive feedbacks in the climate system as well, because an earth covered with more snow reflects more of the sun's energy into space, causing additional cooling. In addition, it appears that the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere falls as ice sheets grow, also adding to the cooling of the climate.

The earth's orbit around the sun is not quite circular, which means that the earth is slightly closer to the sun at some times of the year than others. The closest approach of the earth to the sun is called perihelion, and it now occurs in January, making northern hemisphere winters slightly milder. This change in timing of perihelion is known as the precession of the equinoxes, and occurs on a period of 22,000 years. 11,000 years ago, perihelion occurred in July, making the seasons more severe than today. The "roundness", or eccentricity, of the earth's orbit varies on cycles of 100,000 and 400,000 years, and this affects how important the timing of perihelion is to the strength of the seasons. The combination of the 41,000 year tilt cycle and the 22,000 year precession cycles, plus the smaller eccentricity signal, affect the relative severity of summer and winter, and are thought to control the growth and retreat of ice sheets. Cool summers in the northern hemisphere, where most of the earth's land mass is located, appear to allow snow and ice to persist to the next winter, allowing the development of large ice sheets over hundreds to thousands of years. Conversely, warmer summers shrink ice sheets by melting more ice than the amount accumulating during the winter.

What is The Milankovitch Theory? The Milankovitch or astronomical theory of climate change is an explanation for changes in the seasons which result from changes in the earth's orbit around the sun. The theory is named for Serbian astronomer Milutin Milankovitch, who calculated the slow changes in the earth's orbit by careful measurements of the position of the stars, and through equations using the gravitational pull of other planets and stars. He determined that the earth "wobbles" in its orbit. The earth's "tilt" is what causes seasons, and changes in the tilt of the earth change the strength of the seasons. The seasons can also be accentuated or modified by the eccentricity (degree of roundness) of the orbital path around the sun, and the precession effect, the position of the solstices in the annual orbit.
What does The Milankovitch Theory say about future climate change?
Orbital changes occur over thousands of years, and the climate system may also take thousands of years to respond to orbital forcing. Theory suggests that the primary driver of ice ages is the total summer radiation received in northern latitude zones where major ice sheets have formed in the past, near 65 degrees north. Past ice ages correlate well to 65N summer insolation (Imbrie 1982). Astronomical calculations show that 65N summer insolation should increase gradually over the next 25,000 years, and that no 65N summer insolation declines sufficient to cause an ice age are expected in the next 50,000 - 100,000 years ( Hollan 2000, Berger 2002).

Orbital Variations

Variations in the Earth's orbit around the sun (Milankovitch forcing) affect the distribution of solar energy about the globe, resulting in changes in seasonality and climate.
Orbital Variations, 5,000,000 Years, Berger and Loutre 1991
Orbital Variations, -50 to +20 MYrs, preliminary, Laskar et al.(from IMCCE)


[Editor's Note: Visit the link above for extensive links and references.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake of
moment magnitude 9.0 that struck the Indian Ocean off the western coast of
northern Sumatra, Indonesia on December 26, 2004 at 00:58:50 UTC (07:58:50
local time in Jakarta and Bangkok). The quake and the resulting tsunamis are
being called the worst natural disaster in modern history, even though it
was not the most deadly, because of the widespread nature of the impact. It
was the largest earthquake on Earth since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday
Earthquake which struck Alaska, USA, on March 27, 1964, and the fourth
largest since 1900. Tens of thousands were killed by the resulting tsunamis,
which were as high as 10 m (33 ft) in some locations and struck within three
hours of the quake.

The 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.

Quake characteristics

Locations of the initial earthquake and aftershocks

The quake was initially reported as magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale. On
the moment magnitude scale, which is more accurate for quakes of this size,
the earthquake's magnitude was first reported as 8.1 by the United States
Geological Survey, but after further analysis they increased this first to
8.5 and 8.9 and finally 9.0.

For comparison, the largest recorded earthquake was the Great Chilean
Earthquake of 1960, having a magnitude of 9.5. The only other larger quakes
worldwide since 1900 were the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake (9.2) and a March
9, 1957 quake [1] in the Andreanof Islands (9.1), both in Alaska, USA. The
only other recorded 9.0 magnitude earthquake, in 1952 off the southeast
coast of Kamchatka, U.S.S.R., spawned tsunamis that caused extensive damage
in Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands and the Hawaiian Islands.

The hypocenter was at 3.298°N, 95.779°E, some 160 km (100 mi) west of
Sumatra, at a depth of 10 km (6.2 mi) underwater, within the "Ring of Fire"
zone of frequent earthquakes. The quake itself (apart from the tsunamis) was
felt as far away as Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore,
Thailand and the Maldives.

The earthquake was unusually large in geographical extent. About 1,200?km
(740?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).

Tectonic plates at epicenter

The India Plate is part of the great Indo-Australian Plate, which underlies
the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, and is drifting northeast at an average
of 5?cm/yr (2?in/yr), relative to the Burma Plate. The Burma Plate carries
the Nicobar and Andaman Islands and northern Sumatra, and is pushed by the
Sunda Plate to its east. Both the Burma and Sunda Plates are considered
portions of the great Eurasian Plate. The tectonic activity that results as
these plates scrape against each other led to the creation of the Sunda Arc.

Numerous aftershocks of magnitude between 5.7 and 6.3 were reported off the
Andaman Islands in the following hours and days. Aftershocks off the Nicobar
Islands were also reported, including ones of magnitude 7.5 [2] , and 6.5
[3] . Other aftershocks between magnitude 5.0 and 6.3 occurred near the
location of the original quake. See also: USGS current earthquake
information .

The earthquake came just three days after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in a
completely uninhabited region west of New Zealand's sub-Antarctic Auckland
Islands, and north of Australia's Macquarie Island [4] . This would normally
be unusual, since earthquakes of magnitude 8 or more occur only once per
year on average. The possible connection between these two earthquakes has
been addressed by seismologists, saying that the former one might be the
catalyst to the Indian Ocean earthquake, both happened on their respective
sides of Indo-Australian tectonic plate [5] . Coincidentally, it also struck
almost exactly one year (within an hour) after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake
killed 30,000 people in the city of Bam in Iran [6] .

The total energy released by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake such as this one
exceeds the total amount of energy consumed in the United States in one
month, or the energy released by the wind of a hurricane like Hurricane
Isabel over a period of 70 days ([7] ). Using the mass-energy equivalence
formula E=mc˛, this amount of energy is equivalent to a mass of about 100?kg
(220?lb) (much more than is actually converted to energy in a nuclear
explosion), or enough to boil 5000?litres (1,300?US?gallons) of water for
every person on Earth.

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 rotate
1/10,000th of a second faster. [8]

Damage and casualties

The earthquake triggered massive tsunamis which struck the coasts of the
Indian Ocean. The death toll from the tsunamis and the resultant floods was
reported to be more than 59,000, with tens of thousands of people reported
missing, and over a million left homeless. Pacific Ocean coasts were not
affected. The death toll may be particularly high due to the fact that this
is the first time in over 100 years that a tsunami of the Indian Ocean has
struck land, leaving the affected countries unprepared and the people unable
to recognise the telltale signs of an impending tsunami. The last tsunami in
the area was caused by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

In addition to the large number of local residents, some tourists during the
busy Christmas holiday travel season were among the casualties. States of
emergency were declared in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Maldives. The United
Nations has declared that the current relief operation would be the
costliest one ever.


Country - Confirmed Dead - Estimated Dead - Injured - Missing - Displaced

Indonesia - 27,174 - At least 27,174 - Unknown - ~30,000 - Unknown
Sri Lanka* - 17,640 - 25,000 - 4,000 - ~20,000 - 1.5 million
India - 9,396 - 9,400 - Unknown - >30,000 - Hundreds of thousands
Thailand - 1,516 - 2,000 - 8,432 - 1,200 - 29,000
Myanmar (Burma) - 90 - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown
Maldives - 68 - Unknown - Unknown - 76 - Unknown
Malaysia - 65 - Unknown - >200 - 29 - Unknown
Somalia - 48 - Hundreds - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown
Tanzania - 10 - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown
Seychelles - 3 - Unknown - Unknown - 7 - Unknown
Bangladesh - 2 - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown
Kenya - 2 - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown
Madagascar - None - Unknown - Unknown - Unknown - Up to 1200

Total - 56,014 - 56,014-62,000 - >10,546 - >80,000 - 1.5-2 million

* The numbers for Sri Lanka include reports from both government- as well as
Tamil-held regions.
Killer quake rattled earth orbit: scientists
ABC Online - Australia
The earthquake that unleashed deadly tidal waves on Asia was so powerful it made the earth wobble on its axis and permanently altered the regional map, United ...

Killer quake rattled earth orbit: scientists

The earthquake that unleashed deadly tidal waves on Asia was so powerful it made the earth wobble on its axis and permanently altered the regional map, United States geophysicists said on Monday.

The quake registered 9.0 on the Richter scale and struck 250 kilometres south-east of Sumatra on Sunday.According to one expert, it may have moved small islands as much as 20 metres."That earthquake has changed the map," US Geological Survey (USGS) expert Ken Hudnut told AFP."Based on seismic modelling, some of the smaller islands off the south-west coast of Sumatra may have moved to the south-west by about 20 metres. That is a lot of slip."

The north-western tip of the Indonesian territory of Sumatra may also have shifted to the south-west by around 36 metres, Mr Hudnut said.In addition, the energy released as the two sides of the undersea fault slipped against each other made the earth wobble on its axis.

"We can detect very slight motions of the earth and I would expect that the earth wobbled in its orbit when the earthquake occurred, due the massive amount of energy exerted and the sudden shift in mass," Mr Hudnut said.Another USGS research geophysicist agreed that the earth would have received a "little jog," and that the islands off Sumatra would have been moved by the quake.

However, Stuart Sipkin, of the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre in Golden Colorado, said it was more likely the islands off Sumatra had risen higher out of the sea."In in this case, the Indian plate dived below the Burma plate, causing uplift, so most of the motion to the islands would have been vertical, not horizontal."The tsunamis unleashed by the fourth-biggest earthquake in a century have left at least 23,000 people dead in eight countries across Asia and as far as Somalia in East Africa.

The tsunamis wiped out entire coastal villages and sucked beach-goers out to sea.The International Red Cross estimated that up to one million people have been displaced by the natural calamity.

Geological reports

Earthquakes: Lanka no longer safe
by Uditha Kumarasinghe

People should be aware that Sri Lanka is no longer safe from earthquakes due to a new plate boundary phenomenon which is being formed in the south of Sri Lanka, Senior Geologist of Peradeniya University and former Director of the Institute of Fundamental Studies Prof. C.B. Dissanayake told the Daily News yesterday. He said there are 12 plate boundaries on Earth which move around.

Earth quakes take place when these plates are collide with earth other.

Sri Lanka is located inside the Indo-Australian plate. Therefore we think that Sri Lanka does not get earth quakes. However geologists have pointed out that a new plate is forming south of Sri Lanka.

As a result the Indo-Sri Lanka plate is breaking up right near the south of Sri Lanka. Therefore this kind of geological change may cause earthquakes.

"Sri Lanka is no longer safe from earthquakes. A recent research conducted by James Cochran, a scientist of Doherty Laboratory in the USA has also predicted this new plate forming phenomenon developing in South of Sri Lanka," he said.

Prof. Dissanayake said the people should be aware of this new plate boundary phenomenon which will have the possibility of causing earthquakes. He said yesterday's earth quake was reported somewhere in Sumatra which has been identified as a well known earthquake area.

This one was a giant earthquake compared with the December tremor occurred in Sri Lanka.

In an earthquake, water level in the sea drastically increase by leading to this kind of massive tidal waves, he said.
Death toll reaches 100,000
By Andrew Gilligan In Colombo And Valentine Low In London, Evening Standard
29 December 2004

The death toll in the tsunami disaster soared past 100,000 today - and is set to climb higher.
Look here too

Gallery: sorrow and relief
'We all thought we were going to die'
Third of casualties may be children
Attenborough's relative among dead
Tsunami disaster special report
Gallery: destruction across Asia
Trapped tourist broke his own ankle to get out
Desperate search for the missing

A total of 50 Britons are now confirmed dead and at least 100 are unaccounted for after tidal waves swept away resorts in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and around the Indian Ocean.

Officials in every country today warned the final number of dead will be even higher as rescue teams reach remote areas.

The UN said there were now strong grounds to believe that the toll in the Sumatran province of Aceh, the worst affected area, would be as high as 80,000. The number dead has now climbed in every country affected, including:

Thailand: 1,700 confirmed dead, including 43 British tourists.

  • Indonesia: more than 42,000 confirmed dead.


  • India: nearly 7,000 dead, and many coastal areas including parts of Kerala still to be searched.
    Sri Lanka: 22,500 are confirmed dead and there are fears for hundreds of independent British travellers on the east coast.

    Aid agencies today warned disease will also cause massive casualties among the survivors as the biggest relief effort in history began.

    The British toll climbed as a new alert was sounded over the number missing. Abta, the tours operators' association, said there were 100 Britons unaccounted for. There are no confirmed numbers for missing backpackers.

    Today more dramatic accounts emerged as hundreds of Britons flew back to Heathrow from Thailand.

    Businessman Neil Tennant, from Woodbridge, Suffolk, told how he and his family had to flee to the roof of their hotel in Khao Lak as a giant wave swamped the building.

    He said: "We ran up to the roof from our room just a few seconds before the water swamped it. I have no doubt we would have been killed if we had stayed where we were."

    Amy Davies, from Camden, who was staying at Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, arrived home still in her swimming costume. She said: "I saw a drowned child in the water below me."

    First Choice said six of its 248 customers in Phuket were still unaccounted after Sunday's tsunami.

    An official at the British embassy in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, today said the confirmed British death toll there stood at three.

    First Choice had 584 holidaymakers in the Maldives. One died and all the others have been accounted for.

    MyTravel said it had between 850 and 900 clients in the affected area. Most had been accounted for.

    The vast majority of the 3,500 foreigners still unaccounted for in the disaster region are from Scandinavia. The missing include at least 1,500 Swedes, 800 Norwegians, 214 Danes and 200 Finns.

    Families across Britain were today in mourning and hundreds waited helplessly for news of their loved ones. Film director Lord Attenborough was among those grieving after it was confirmed his granddaughter, Lucy, 14, was dead and his daughter, Jane Holland, 49, was missing, feared dead. Jane's mother-in-law, also called Jane Holland, was also missing in Phuket. The family, who live in London, have asked for privacy "at this terrible time".

    The south-east Asian communities of London watched in horror as the tsunami destroyed the lives of their relatives. Moulana Mazahir, from Harrow, lost 50 close relatives when a wall of water destroyed his home town of Hambantotain southern Sri Lanka. The 45-year-old chef 's only solace is that his wife and three sons, who had been on holiday in the resort, escaped with their lives after leaving just three hours before disaster struck.

    "My life will never be the same. It was a miracle my wife and sons are still alive - but they are terrified."

    Mohammed Samsudena and his wife Nirusha, 29, also from Harrow, say they have lost 40 family members and are desperately trying to contact other relatives in Hambantota. The 36-year-old petrol station sales assistant said: "Yesterday morning we heard that the body of my sister-in-law, Fatima, had been found. She was only 18."

    Relatives of London newlyweds Christopher and Gaynor Mullen, from Richmond, now fear the worst - last hearing from the couple on Christmas Day, when they simply said they were "on the beach" in Thailand.

    Fashion photographer Simon Atlee, 33, from London, most famous for his photograph of Rugby World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson in the Hackett advertisements, was also swept away in the tidal wave as his holiday bungalow in Khao Lak near Phuket was destroyed. His girlfriend, Czech model Petra Nemcova, 25, survived by clinging onto a palm tree.

    Louise Willgrass, 43, from Colney, near Norwich, was washed away after she had got out of the rented car her family was travelling in to buy suncream at a Phuket supermarket.

    The car, being driven by her husband Nigel and containing their four children, Emily, 16, Ben, 14, Michael, nine and Katie, six was overwhelmed by the tidal wave. Mr Willgrass managed to pull the children free and they survived by clinging to floating debris.

    Conservation volunteer Lisa Jones, 31, is feared dead on the tiny Thai island of Koh Phra Thong, where she had been helping research sea turtles.

    Related stories
    Gallery: sorrow and relief
    Gallery: destruction across Asia
    Desperate search for the missing
    Trapped tourist broke his own ankle to get out
    ©2004 Associated New Media

Where are all the dead animals? Sri Lanka asks

29 Dec 2004
Source: Reuters

COLOMBO, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan wildlife officials are stunned -- the worst tsunami in memory has killed around 22,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast, but they can't find any dead animals.

Giant waves washed floodwaters up to 3 km (2 miles) inland at Yala National Park in the ravaged southeast, Sri Lanka's biggest wildlife reserve and home to hundreds of wild elephants and several leopards.

"The strange thing is we haven't recorded any dead animals," H.D. Ratnayake, deputy director of the national Wildlife Department, told Reuters on Wednesday.

"No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit," he added. "I think animals can sense disaster. They have a sixth sense. They know when things are happening."

At least 40 tourists, including nine Japanese, were drowned.

The tsunami was triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, which sent waves up to 5-metres (15-feet) high crashing onto Sri Lanka's southern, eastern and northern seaboard, flooding whole towns and villages, destroying hotels and causing widespread destruction.

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Dec. 30) - The death toll from last weekend's earthquake-tsunami catastrophe rose to more than 114,000 on Thursday as Indonesia uncovered more and more dead from ravaged Sumatra island, where pilots dropped food to remote villages still unreachable by rescue workers. A false alarm that new killer waves were about to hit sparked panic in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The increase came after Indonesia reported nearly 28,000 newly confirmed dead in Sumatra, which was closest to the epicenter of last weekend's massive earthquake and was overwhelmed by the tsunami that followed. Some 60 percent of Banda Aceh, the main city in northern Sumatra was destroyed, the U.N. children's agency estimated, and 115 miles of the island's northwest coast - lined with villages - was inundated.

Indonesia, with around 80,000 dead, was the worst hit, followed by Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. The total across 12 nations in southern Asia and East Africa was likely to rise, with thousands still missing and fears that disease could bring a new wave of deaths.

Tens of thousands of residents fled coasts in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand after warnings that a new tsunami was about to strike after new aftershocks hit the Indian Ocean Thursday.

India issued a tsunami warning at midday, but then hours later its science minister, Kapil Sibal, went on television to announce the warning was incorrect and based on information received from a U.S. research firm.

Fears of a new tsunami were "unscientific, hogwash and should be discarded," Sibal said.

Still, the alert sparked panic among people traumatized by Sunday's devastation.

"We got into a truck and fled," said 40-year-old Gandhimathi of Nagappattinam in India's Tamil Nadu state, who said authorities told her to leave her home. "We took only a few clothes and left behind all of our belongings, everything we had."

Sri Lanka's military later told residents there to be vigilant but not to panic, while coastal villagers climbed onto rooftops or sought high ground. "There is total confusion here," said Rohan Bandara in the coastal town of Tangalle.

Tsunami sirens in southern Thailand sent people dashing from beaches, but only small waves followed the alarms.

An estimated 5.7 magnitude aftershock was recorded in seas northwest of Indonesia's Sumatra island by the Hong Kong observatory Thursday morning, along with earlier, overnight quakes at India's Andaman and Nicobar islands. But a 5.7 quake would be about 1,000 times less powerful than Sunday's, and probably would have "negligible impact," said geologist Jason Ali of University of Hong Kong.

The false alarm highlighted the lack of an organized tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean region - which experts have already said may have worsened the crisis after Sunday's 9.0 magnitude quake hit off Sumatra's coast, sending a massive wave racing at 500 mph across the Indian Ocean.

Sibal, the Indian science minister, said Thursday's warning was based on information from a U.S. research group that "claimed they have some sensors and equipment through which they suggest there was a possibility of an earthquake."

He did not elaborate on how the information was incorrect.


Luis Enrique Ascui, Reuters

A tsunami wave, triggered by an ocean-floor earthquake, is barely perceptible as it travels across the water, but its shoreline impact can be tremendous.

Meanwhile, military ships and planes rushed to get desperately needed aid to Sumatra's ravaged coast. Countless corpses strewn on the streets rotted under the tropical sun causing a nearly unbearable stench.

Food drops began along the coast, mostly of instant noodles and medicines, with some of the areas "hard to reach because they are surrounded by cliffs," said Budi Aditutro, head of the government's relief team.

Government institutions in Aceh province, the territory on Sumatra's northern tip, have ceased to function and basic supplies such as fuel have almost run out, forcing even ambulances to ration gasoline.

On the streets of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, fights have broken out over packets of noodles dropped from military vehicles.

"I believe the frustration will be growing in the days and weeks ahead," U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland said.

The United States, India, Australia and Japan have formed an international coalition to coordinate worldwide relief and reconstruction efforts, President Bush announced.

"We will prevail over this destruction," Bush said from his Texas ranch Wednesday.

The number of deaths in Indonesia stood at about 52,000. Authorities there said that did not include a full count from Sumatra's west coast, and UNICEF estimated the toll for that country alone could be 80,000.

Sri Lanka reported 24,700 dead, India more than 7,300 and Thailand around 2,400 - though that country's prime minister said he feared the toll would go to 6,800. A total of more than 300 were killed in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Somalia, Tanzania and Kenya.

The disaster struck a band of the tropics that not only is heavily populated but attracts tourists from all corners. Throughout the world, people sought word of missing relatives, from small-town Sri Lankan fishermen to Europeans on sand-and-sun holidays.

On hundreds of Web sites, the messages were brief but poignant: "Missing: Christina Blomee in Khao Lak," or simply, "Where are you?"

But even as hope for the missing dwindled, survivors continued to turn up.

A 2-year-old Swedish boy was reunited with his father days after the toddler was found alone on a roadside in Thailand's southern beach resort island of Phuket. In Sri Lanka, a lone fisherman named Sini Mohammed Sarfudeen was rescued Wednesday by an air force helicopter crew after clinging to his wave-tossed boat for three days.

Rescue workers on Thursday plied the dense forests of India's remote Andaman and Nicobar islands - an archipelago just to the northwest of the quake's epicenter - where authorities fear as many as 10,000 more people may be buried in mud and thick vegetation. Many hungry villagers were surviving on coconut milk, rescuers said.

Mohammad Yusef, 60, a fisherman who fled his village and was holed up at a Catholic church in the territory's capital Port Blair along with about 800 others, said all 15 villages on the coast of Car Nicobar island had been destroyed.

"There's not a single hut which is standing," he told The Associated Press. "Everything is gone. Most of the people have gone up to the hills and are afraid to come down," Yusef said.

Many villagers had not eaten for two days and said that crocodiles had washed ashore during the disaster, compounding the horror of more than 50 aftershocks since Sunday's quake.

12/30/04 08:49 EST

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

Towns Found Flattened in Sumatra
    By Alan Sipress and Ellen Nakashima
    The Washington Post

    Friday 31 December 2004

        Rescuers push into remote areas; deaths in South Asia hit 121,000.

    Banda Aceh, Indonesia - Airborne military patrols scoured inaccessible sections of Sumatra island Thursday and discovered that swaths of land were inundated and roads, villages and bridges had vanished. After helicopter flyovers, rescuers estimated more than 80,000 deaths in the region and described the scene as catastrophic.

    "The scale of devastation is huge, bigger than imagined," said Emil Agustiono, a government official helping coordinate the Aceh relief effort.

    In Meulaboh, 110 miles southeast of this provincial capital in northern Sumatra, rescuers reported that lagoons had formed where communities had disappeared. Officials expressed fears that 40,000 of the 120,000 residents could have died in Meulaboh and the area around it. The district is about 60 miles from the epicenter of Sunday's undersea earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 9.0 and generated a massive tsunami that killed at least 121,000 people in 12 countries in South Asia and Africa.

    The force of the tsunami swept the sea to the foot of mountains more than a mile inland, according to a reporter for the Reuters news agency who surveyed the area. Mangled cars littered streets, and fishing boats were strewn on top of other debris, but the city's maroon-domed mosque remained standing, the reporter said.

    As governments of the 12 countries struggled to restore basic needs - potable water, medicines and food for millions affected by the disaster - relief operations were spurred on around the world. But the poorest survivors still wandered aimlessly amid rubble looking to bury their dead, or waited for food that had not arrived. The World Health Organization reported that "between three and five million people in the region are unable to access the basic requirements they need to stay alive - clean water, adequate shelter, food, sanitation and healthcare."

    The first survivors were airlifted Thursday from Meulaboh to Banda Aceh. A U.S. Navy battle group raced to Sumatra as the United States and dozens of other countries shuttled tons of supplies to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, the countries that were the hardest hit. Although governments and international agencies had pledged at least a half a billion dollars to an unprecedented recovery effort, basic needs were still barely being met in the stricken area.

    The Indonesia government said on Friday it would host an international tsunami summit on Jan. 6 to try to obtain more aid, the Reuters news agency reported.

    On Thursday, in Banda Aceh, corpses lay along the muddy streets, the military could not meet a deadline for clearing them away that had been imposed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after touring the area Tuesday.

    The Indian government issued an erroneous tsunami warning Thursday, and people fled the southern Indian coast on jammed roads and climbed roofs in coastal areas of Sri Lanka and Thailand. Hours later, the government said the alert was a false alarm. There is no coordinated tsunami warning system in the region.

    Periodic aftershocks from the Sunday quake were registered in South Asia on Thursday. Lava was spewing from a volcano on an island in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an Indian archipelago off the coasts of Burma and Indonesia, officials told news agencies. Previously, the crater emitted only gas.

    Relief supplies were arriving from the United States, Australia, Europe and other Asian countries. Distribution centers were being established at Medan on Sumatra, south of Aceh, and at U Tapao, a Thai air base used by the United States during the Vietnam War. As many as 1,000 U.S. military personnel were expected at the Thai base in the next week, according to U.S. military officials.

    President Bush said he was sending Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, his brother, to the disaster zone on Sunday. "In this hour of critical need, America is joining with other nations and international organizations to do everything possible to provide assistance and relief to the victims and their families," he said.

    Four days after one of the largest earthquakes in history triggered a tsunami that smashed into coastlines from Indonesia to Somalia, half a billion dollars has been pledged to the relief effort, the United Nations said.

    European nations have pledged millions in aid to South Asia relief. Britain said it was donating $95 million; Sweden promised $75.5 million; Spain, $68 million; and France, $57 million. Aside from the military commitment, the United States has announced an initial $35 million aid package. The largest single donation so far has been $250 million from the World Bank, announced Thursday by the organization's president, James D. Wolfensohn.

    U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said the donations have been generous but the need is vast.

    "This is an unprecedented global catastrophe, and it requires an unprecedented global response," Annan said at a news conference.

    "It is conceivable that one may not be able to fulfill every possible need for each of the countries and each of the coastal villages that has been destroyed. We should do all our best to really help them," he said. "If we fall short, we can at least be satisfied that we did everything possible."

    The Indonesian Health Ministry reported that it expected further increases in the death toll. Sri Lanka reported 27,268 dead and about 1 million people displaced; India, at least 7,368 deaths, with 8,000 missing and possibly dead in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; Thailand, 4,500 dead; Somalia, 114; Burma, also known as Myanmar, 65; Malaysia, 65; Maldives, 69; Tanzania, 10; Bangladesh, two; and Kenya, one.


    Indonesian officials continued to struggle with the lack of infrastructure in Aceh province.

    Many local government officials were killed in the disaster, and authorities said others were missing or too traumatized to function. Officials said the federal government would send 300 workers from various ministries to replace them and reestablish government services.

    At least 500,000 people were displaced and 100,000 homes destroyed in Aceh, officials said. A major highway to towns on the west coast is impassable, and there is no access by land.

    Oliver Hall, head of the U.N. disaster assessment and coordination team in Indonesia, said local officials were "clearly in a state of great shock" and that "there's huge devastation in Banda Aceh and along the west coast."

    "There's no extra water available," he added, warning that volunteers must bring their own provisions to the region. "There's no communication equipment available. There's no extra food available. It's a wasteland."

    At night, Meulaboh is completely dark, and the electrical grid will take perhaps three months to fully restore, Agustiono, the government official, said. In Calong, a town north of Meulaboh, he said, only 5,000 of 15,000 people were reported to have survived. Most of the rescuers on the west coast are with the Indonesian military, supported by a Malaysian air force team, he said.

    While the airport at Banda Aceh is busy with the arrival of relief-related flights, residents said little was getting through to them. Hungry crowds jostled around aid workers who tried to deliver biscuits to relieve hunger. Some drivers dared not stop.

    Sri Lanka

    Victims on the northern coast hit journalists and a soldier with wooden poles during a meeting with Prime Minister Mahina Rajapakse, who was led to safety by his bodyguards. Rajapakse was on a tour of affected areas in a region that has been controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels, who have fought government forces for 20 years.

    The rebels, who seek independence in the northern and eastern portions of the country, appealed for international relief aid this week. There has been a cease-fire in the area since 2002, when Norway brokered a truce.

    The Indian government reported that it had provided extensive rescue and relief assistance to Sri Lanka and other affected countries, including search ships and planes, medical camps staffed with doctors and equipment, air drops of supplies and $25 million in aid.

    As international relief flights arrived in Sri Lanka, a brewery in Colombo, the capital, switched from beer to bottled water to help survivors, according to the relief organization Oxfam International.

    Oxfam, which said it was assisting in the effort, reported that the Lion Brewery plant had produced 120,000 bottles of water for shipment to affected areas.

    "With so much loss of life, how could you not help?" said Nausha Raheem, the manager of the plant.


    In India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, where more than 4,000 people died, police and fire departments were put on high alert after the false alarm of a new tsunami.

    The Indian Home Ministry was unapologetic. A.K. Ragosti, a senior official, said there was "no need to panic. We issued the alert as a precautionary measure."

    Still, it was clear that the absence of a coordinated warning system in South Asia had caused large-scale panic. A warning system in the Pacific Ocean, which monitors several seismic networks, is designed to alert nations that potentially destructive waves could hit their coastlines within three to 14 hours.

    This week, India announced plans to set up its own early warning system within two years. Meanwhile, the United Nations said Wednesday it believes the current warning system could easily be extended to countries around the Indian Ocean within a year.


    German, Swiss, Dutch, Australian and other forensic teams were helping identify bodies that were filling morgues. Many European tourists remained among the several thousand people missing along Thailand's southern coast, which is dotted with smashed and wrecked cars and building material.

    "It will be challenging," said Karl Kent, head of a 17-member Australian federal police team, according to Reuters. "The scale is of a magnitude that Australia and other countries have not experienced," he said.


    Go to Original

    Sumatra's West Coast Devastated
    By Richard C. Paddock
    The Los Angeles Times

    Friday 31 December 2004

Deaths in remote areas push toll to 125,000; Powell to tour region.

    Banda Aceh, Indonesia - The first survivors from an isolated area of the Sumatran coast were airlifted Thursday to the provincial capital, where they described a horrendous scene in which floodwaters covered a vast swath of land and probably killed more than half of one city's 100,000 people.

    Survivors from the city of Meulaboh arrived with stories of being at sea for days and surviving by hanging naked to the minaret of a mosque. It was another grim detail of one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. The death toll Thursday stood at 125,000 from Sunday's earthquake and tsunami that struck nations lining the Indian Ocean. At least 80,000 of the dead were from Indonesia.

    There was still no clear picture of conditions in some remote villages or on islands off India and Indonesia, raising the specter that the disaster's toll could yet eclipse the 138,000 killed by a cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991.

    United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced that more than 30 countries and organizations had pledged $500 million in aid, half of that from the World Bank.

    "I would like to assure the people of the region that the entire United Nations family stands ready to assist, and we stand behind them," Annan said. "We will work with them in every way we can to rebuild their lives, livelihoods and communities devastated by this catastrophe."

    President Bush, still smarting from charges that the United States was doing too little to assist in relief operations, announced that he was sending Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to the region, along with the president's brother, Jeb, the governor of Florida.

    The United States has pledged $35 million. Britain, France and Sweden have pledged considerably more.

    "To coordinate this massive relief effort, firsthand assessments are needed by individuals on the ground," President Bush said in a written statement delivered at his ranch outside Crawford, Texas. The delegation, he said, would "meet with regional leaders and international organizations to assess what additional aid can be provided by the United States."

    Bush said he was sending his brother because of his experience in recent months dealing with hurricane damage in Florida. White House Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy said that sending Gov. Bush underscored the importance of the mission.

    "He's also the president's brother," Duffy noted. "I think it signifies the high level of importance that the president puts on this delegation."

    This year the governor won accolades for his attention to recovery efforts after four hurricanes pummeled Florida in a six-week period. Details of the upcoming trip were not immediately available.

    In India, Thailand and Sri Lanka, thousands of people fled inland Thursday after unfounded rumors that another tsunami was approaching.

    David Nabarro, head of the World Health Organization's crisis team, said that as many as 5 million people in the region lacked essentials needed to survive.

    An estimated 6,000 foreigners, many of them Europeans, were still missing. Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson said that as many as 1,000 of his countrymen may have died, almost all of them on holiday at the beaches of southern Asia. More than 1,000 others from Scandinavian countries also were listed as missing.

    The U.S. death toll was officially raised from 12 to 14, with seven dead in Thailand and seven more in Sri Lanka. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said an estimated 600 Americans who were listed as missing in the disaster zone had been found. But he said several thousand others had not been located. He said that in Sri Lanka, Americans had been showing up at U.S. consular offices wearing bathing suits, with no money or other clothing.

    "Everything else was lost, and we're taking care of them," he said. "We're getting them places to stay, money to buy clothes, new passports, putting them in touch with their relatives."

    The U.S. military sent a team of four forensic anthropologists from Hawaii to the region Thursday to help identify victims, said Army Lt. Col. David Buckingham, the group's director. The anthropologists normally work on identifying the remains of soldiers found on former battlefields of Vietnam and Korea. They will focus initially on identifying Americans and other foreigners, freeing local forensic experts to work on identifying citizens of their own countries.

    The most positive news was that food and medicine were on the way. A U.S. C-130 military transport plane carrying bottled water arrived this morning at the bustling Banda Aceh airport. An Australian military plane, one of five daily flights by the Australians, followed shortly. Boxes of supplies were piled in an open-air warehouse. Helicopters clattered overhead.

    The U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and its strike group are now in place off the Indonesian coast, and military officials said that the amphibious Bonhomme Richard Marine Expeditionary Strike Group would reach its destination off the Sri Lankan coast within a week.

    It will take longer, officials said, for eight slow-moving Marine cargo ships coming from Guam and the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia to reach southeast Asia.

    "The tyranny of distance in this region really is amazing," said Navy Capt. Rodger Welch of the U.S. Pacific Command.

    Arjun Katoch, a U.N. senior disaster response official, said Thursday that "the international aid effort is now gathering steam pretty well."

    But that did little to diminish the horror of Meulaboh, which had been cut off since Sunday because bridges from Banda Aceh, about 110 miles to the north, were washed out. One of the survivors evacuated by air, 31-year-old Epayani, said thousands of corpses had been piled up by soldiers. But she said that even with those efforts, the water was turning black from decomposing bodies.

    "Meulaboh has become like an ocean," said Epayani, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. "It is completely destroyed."

    Another group of survivors evacuated by helicopter from Kecamatan Lhoong, 30 miles south of Banda Aceh, said that 24 of 28 villages in the area were destroyed, killing more than 9,000 of the 12,000 people who lived there. The reports from Sumatra's west coast added to the rapidly increasing death toll in Indonesia.

    Mike Griffiths, a New Zealand environmentalist who is active in efforts to preserve northern Sumatra, flew over the island coast and videotaped the destruction. In addition to the damage in Meulaboh, he said, four towns - each with about 10,000 people - were wiped out, except for one where about 30 survivors were camped on a hill.

    As the death toll here worsened Thursday, Indonesia accepted an offer from the Australian military to bring in troops and equipment to establish a modern terminal services operation at the Banda Aceh airport to speed up the unloading of aid.

    Indonesia also gave the Australian military permission to fly aircraft within Aceh - an unprecedented step in opening the province, which had largely been closed to foreigners during the government's long-running battle with separatists there.

    In Banda Aceh, the army accelerated efforts to pick up corpses from the streets, where thousands of bodies had been left rotting in the tropical heat.

    Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who visited the area Tuesday, had directed the army to clear the streets of bodies within two days. But there was little chance of meeting the deadline.

    Soldiers wearing masks to block the stench used long sticks to push bloated bodies onto plastic sheets, then loaded them onto trucks for burial in mass graves alongside the highway leading to the airport.

    Meulaboh is one of the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. About 100,000 people lived there before the disaster struck.

    Military doctors rappelled from helicopters into the city to begin treating the injured. Authorities also are attempting to reopen the airport so that planes can bring in shipments of food, bottled water and medicine.

    "It's impossible to drink the water because it smells of dead bodies," said Epayani, who was taken by helicopter to Banda Aceh with her badly injured husband and three children.

    A few isolated buildings were still standing surrounded by water, she said.

    "From what people have seen from the air, it looks like the town of Meulaboh is 90% destroyed," said Michael Elmquist, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Indonesia. "There might not be many survivors. It got the full brunt of the earthquake and [tsunami]."

    Epayani, exhausted by her ordeal, recounted a remarkable story of her family's survival.

    Like other witnesses to the tsunami, she described a series of six waves. The first was the largest, about 15 feet high, she said. As it came roaring into the city, she said, all five family members quickly climbed up trees to safety on the roof of their house.

    When the second wave hit, her 9-year-old son, Wira, fell off the roof and grabbed a cupboard that was floating by. When the cupboard began sinking, he clambered onto a mattress. The mattress floated away and he quickly became separated from the family. He spent two days drifting in the floodwaters before soldiers rescued him.

    The third wave demolished the house. Epayani's husband, Aliman Hapri, a 38-year-old army sergeant, was washed away and spent the next day floating in the waters. During the ordeal, he was struck in the leg by a piece of wood. He has since developed gangrene and is in danger of losing the limb.

    Epayani tried to stay with her other two children, Pardi, 10, and Nora, 9, but they were separated by subsequent waves. Remarkably, the sixth big wave brought the three back together near a mosque, and they were able to cling to its minaret.

    The waves had torn off their clothes, and they were naked when soldiers rescued them.

    For the next three days, the family lived in appalling conditions, like other survivors. They had nothing to eat and were drinking river water without boiling it because they had no pots or stoves.

    "For three days the children were crying, asking for food," she recalled.


    Go to Original

    Disaster Opens Window on Warring State
    By Lindsay Murdoch
    The Age, Australia

    Saturday 01 January 2005

Satellite images show the shoreline of Banda Aceh on Tuesday, above, and on June 23.
(Photo: Digitalglobe)
    Until the earth cracked open and huge waves smashed ashore during 25 minutes of terror last Sunday, Aceh was closed to the outside world.

    The Indonesian Government had for years enforced strict bans on foreigners, including aid workers, entering the rebellious province at the tip of Sumatra.

    Particularly after losing East Timor in 1999, Jakarta's military and political elite feared the presence of foreigners would encourage rebels fighting for independence.

    The military also did not want foreign witnesses to its brutal crackdown on the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which has been waging an equally brutal guerilla war against its presence in the province for decades.

    Yesterday, scores of planes carrying emergency relief supplies from around the world, including Australia, and hundreds of international aid workers were arriving in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh, a city of 70,000 that has been almost totally destroyed. Possibly one in four people is dead.

    The Indonesian Health Ministry estimates just under 80,000 are dead across the province - a catastrophe beyond its ability to cope with or its resources.

    As the scale of the death and destruction became clear, officials close to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gave the go-ahead for foreign aid workers and foreign journalists to enter the province.

    The military, long opposed to the presence of international journalists, even put small groups of them on the first military cargo planes that flew emergency supplies into Banda Aceh.

    The military itself has been hard-hit, with hundreds of its soldiers killed and battalions effectively wiped out.

    With hundreds of thousands of survivors in shock, struggling just to stay alive without food, water, medicines or shelter, soldiers have been left the grisly job of picking up and burying the bodies, which by yesterday were falling apart in Aceh's steamy heat.

    The job is overwhelming.

    Already, people are falling ill amid rotting corpses.

    It will take many more days, if not weeks, for all the bodies to be buried, particularly those in the worst-hit towns that hug Sumatra's west coast that are closest to the epicentre of Sunday's earthquake.

    The military knows it cannot cope alone. "Where is the United Nations?" a soldier driving a truck picking up bodies pleaded on Thursday.

    "Please tell the United Nations to come."

    A soldier in Meulaboh, possibly the worst-hit town, where half the population could be dead, said that maybe now people in Aceh who had been fighting for independence will realise the military is there to help them.

    But the military's inability to quickly get aid to devastated areas has also fuelled some animosity towards them.

    Some community leaders in Banda Aceh have accused soldiers, perhaps unfairly, of taking the first of the emergency supplies for themselves.

    Aceh's fate changed forever after the 25 minutes of terror last Sunday.

    Enemies in a long, bloody civil war suddenly found themselves side by side looking desperately for family members, struggling to stay alive amid indescribable devastation and carnage.

    Everybody in Aceh will need as much outside help as they can get for a long time to come.

Efforts to aid the millions of survivors of Sunday’s devastating quake-tsunami disaster stepped up as the rising death toll surpassed 135,000 according to recent reports.

On Friday, nine U.S military transport crafts took off to rush supplies to the stricken resorts of southern Thailand and to more distant airfields in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the Associated Press reported. One of the cargo jets arrived in the main airport near Banda Aceh—capital of Indonesia’s Aceh Province—with blankets, medicine and the first of 80,000 body bags. Some pilots dropped food to remote villages still unreachable by rescue workers. Other transport crafts were sent by Australia and New Zealand, and the Indonesian government said 42 flights from 18 countries had reached Sumatra by Friday.

Meanwhile, two Navy groups of a dozen vessels have headed for the coasts of Indonesia and Sri Lanka with supplies and, more importantly, over 40 helicopters to help ferry food and medicines into ravaged seaside communities. In addition, the Indian navy, which has already deployed 32 ships and 29 aircraft for tsunami relief and rescue work, was sending two more ships Friday to Indonesia.

However, with the huge world relief drive to shelter, treat and feed millions of survivors finally kicking in, AP said overstretched authorities were dealing with logistical nightmare of getting the incoming aid to the needy.

In Indonesia, tons of supplies were backlogged, with thousands of boxes filled with drinking water, crackers, blankets and other basic necessities piled high in an airplane hangar nearly 300 miles from Banda Aceh—which officials estimate was 60 percent destroyed. Some of the supplies had been brought to the hangar on Monday and still hadn't made it to the disaster zones, AP reported.

"Hundreds of tons, it keeps coming in," the governor of Northern Sumatra province told AP. He blamed the backlog on an initial "lack of coordination" that was slowly improving.

Indonesia, the hardest hit nation, said its death toll of 80,000 could reach 100,000, and officials began to acknowledge that the number of dead may never be known with precision, because the towering waves that smashed into Sumatra island swept entire villages with their inhabitants out to sea.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross and other groups were still working to bury the corpses scattered throughout the city, struggling to deal with the number of dead.

"Many bodies are rotting and still left untouched up to this morning," reported World Vision Indonesia's Jimmy Nadapdap from Banda Aceh on Thursday.

World Vision, one of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world, reported that its office in Indonesia is in the process of procuring and distributing non-food relief aid for 5,000 families (approximately 25,000 people) in the Banda Aceh area. The relief goods will include tarpaulins, cooking utensils, jerrycans/buckets, sarongs, soaps, masks and mosquito nets.

The goods are being procured and assembled in Jakarta and will then be transported to Banda Aceh. The distribution is expected to take place within the next week.

In Sri Lanka, the next hardest hit after Indonesia, World Vision Sri Lanka has already sent packs of essential food, as well as bedding, tarpaulin sheets, clothing, mattresses, kitchen utensils and basic medication to the worst affected areas.

World Vision reports that medicine and medical supplies are urgently needed, as well as a means to deal with the decomposing bodies of the victims. Health authorities warn of outbreaks of dysentery, cholera and hepatitis in the camps, if food and water is contaminated.

In coming days World Vision plans to distribute dry ration food parcels, clothes and other cooking utensils such as plates, cups, jugs and buckets to 12,000 families living in camps in the Matara district.

In India, the agency has been able to provide immediate support for around 3,000 families. In the coming days, World Vision will provide relief to 35,000 families, and introduce a seven-day food ration to be manned by 75 staff.

India has officially reported 7,763 dead in the tsunami disaster — most from the southern provinces of the mainland. Only around 700 dead from the archipelago were counted, but officials said Friday more than 3,700 were still missing. An official a day earlier said 10,000 could be dead in the archipelago.

Kenneth Chan
Copyright © 2004 The Christian Post.



December 28, 2004

By: Andrew Limburg

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Now I don’t claim to be an expert on seismic activity, but there has been a series of events which led up to the 9.0 earthquake of the coast of Indonesia which can not be ignored. This all could be an enormous coincidence, but one must look at the information and choose for themselves whether there is anything to it.

On November 28th, one month ago, Reuters reported that during a 3 day span 169 whales and dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania, an island of the southern coast of mainland Australia and in New Zealand. The cause for these beachings is not known, but Bob Brown, a senator in the Australian parliament, said "sound bombing" or seismic tests of ocean floors to test for oil and gas had been carried out near the sites of the Tasmanian beachings recently.

According to Jim Cummings of the Acoustic Ecology Institute, Seismic surveys utilizing airguns have been taking place in mineral-rich areas of the world’s oceans since 1968. Among the areas that have experienced the most intense survey activity are the North Sea, the Beaufort Sea (off Alaska’s North Slope), and the Gulf of Mexico; areas around Australia and South America are also current hot-spots of activity.

The impulses created by the release of air from arrays of up to 24 airguns create low frequency sound waves powerful enough to penetrate up to 40km below the seafloor. The “source level" of these sound waves is generally over 200dB (and often 230dB or more), roughly comparable to a sound of at least 140-170dB in air.

According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, these 200dB – 230dB shots from the airguns are fired every 10 seconds or so, from 10 meters below the surface, 24 hours a day, for 2 week periods of time, weather permitting.

These types of tests are known to affect whales and dolphins, whose acute hearing and use of sonar is very sensitive.

On December 24th there was a magnitude 8.1 earthquake more than 500 miles southeast of Tasmania near New Zealand, with a subsequent aftershock 6.1 a little later in the morning that same day.

On December 26th, the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck at the intersection of the Australian tectonic plate and the Indian tectonic plate. This is the devastating tsunami tragedy that we have all heard about in the Indian Ocean. The death toll of this horrific event has reached 120,000 souls and continues to rise.

On December 27th, 20 whales beached themselves 110 miles west of Hobart on the southern island state of Tasmania.

What is interesting about this is that the same place where the whale beachings have been taking place over the last 30 days is the same general area where the 8.1 Australian earthquake took place, and this is the same area where they are doing these seismic tests. Then 2 days after the Australian tectonic plate shifted, the 9.0 earthquake shook the coast of Indonesia.

A great deal of interest and seismic testing has been taking place in this area, as the government of Australia has given great tax breaks to encourage the oil exploration.

Two Geologists that I spoke to felt that it was highly unlikely that these seismic tests would have had enough energy to induce the Australian quake. On the other hand there is strong evidence that suggests that oil exploration activities have induced earthquakes in the past.

Again, I don't claim to be an expert. I'm writing this story to bring attention to some interesting facts, so that those who are experts can investigate this fully.

We will be following up on this story as more information is gathered.


Whale Beachings in Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand on November 30th, 2004

Photo: Jason  South / Reuters - A woman and her  son look at carcasses of long-finned pilot  whales and bottle-nosed  dolphins stranded on Sea Elephant Beach on  Tasmania's King Island in  Australia.

Unknown Country
Volcano Erupts in Earthquake Area

India's only active volcano, known as Barren-1, which is located in the Andaman Islands chain about 80 miles northeast of the capital, Port Blair, has begun erupting in the aftermath of last Sunday's mega-quake.

Lava is flowing down the sides of the volcano, and lava and steam are being emitted from the crater. While the volcano is not a threat to populated areas, its sudden eruption following the volcano is another sign of just how profoundly the massive quake affected the region geologically.

Sumatra, as close to the quake's epicenter as Barren-1, has 35 active volcanoes, and the question of whether or not they will be affected by the earth movement is at present unanswered.

A second volcano in the Andaman chain, Narcondam, is located near Barren-1. It has not erupted since 1991. Area scientists are attempting to keep an eye on all volcanoes in the region, but with communications severely disrupted due to the quake and
tsunami, few volcanoes are being actively monitored.
Quake May Have Made Earth Wobble
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Dec 29, 10:14 AM (ET)

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The deadly Asian earthquake may have permanently accelerated the Earth's rotation -- shortening days by a fraction of a second -- and caused the planet to wobble on its axis, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

Richard Gross, a geophysicist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, theorized that a shift of mass toward the Earth's center during the quake on Sunday caused the planet to spin 3 microseconds, or one millionth of a second, faster and to tilt about an inch (2.5 cm) on its axis.

When one huge tectonic plate beneath the Indian Ocean was forced below the edge of another "it had the effect of making the Earth more compact and spinning faster," Gross said.

Gross said changes predicted by his model probably are too minuscule to be detected by a global positioning satellite network that routinely measures changes in Earth's spin, but said the data may reveal a slight wobble.

The Earth's poles travel a circular path that normally varies by about 33 feet, so an added wobble of an inch (2.5 cm) is unlikely to cause long-term effects, he said.

"That continual motion is just used to changing," Gross said. "The rotation is not actually that precise. The Earth does slow down and change its rate of rotation."

When those tiny variations accumulate, planetary scientists must add a "leap second" to the end of a year, something that has not been done in many years, Gross said.

Scientists have long theorized that changes on the Earth's surface such as tide and groundwater shifts and weather could affect its spin but they have not had precise measurements to prove it, Caltech seismologist Hiroo Kanamori said.

"Even for a very large event, the effect is very small," Kanamori said. "It's very difficult to change the rotation rate substantially."

First Tsunami Survivor Found in Three Days

By LELY T. DJUHARI, Associated Press Writer

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia - A Sumatran fisherman was discovered barely alive under his beached boat Sunday — the first survivor found in three days — but with tens of thousands still missing in crushed seaside settlements and in the flotsam washing the shores of the Indian Ocean rescuers turned full attention to getting food and water to the living.

Aid agencies said the death toll was expected to hit 150,000.

The discovery of 24-year-old Tengku Sofyan, who could barely speak and was badly dehydrated, came as relief efforts accelerated across the southern Asian destruction zone. He was sent to a hospital in Banda Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra, the hardest hit region where an estimated 100,000 died when the most powerful earthquake in four decades ripped a fault line beneath the sea bed 100 miles off shore. The tsunami it spawned turned the world upside down for people living as far away as Somalia, 3,000 miles away on the east coast of Africa.

With rescue teams focused on Sumatra, U.S. military helicopters flew in biscuits, energy drinks and instant noodles to hungry, homeless villagers. The operation was part of a $2 billion global relief effort announced as international donors began assembling for a conference on rebuilding in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Thursday.

As the relief efforts drove deeper into the sprawling disaster zone, American pilots had some of the first glimpses of wrecked Sumatran coastal villages such as Kuede Teunom, where survivors in tattered clothing grabbed at bottles of water dropped from helicopters.

Officials said 8,000 of Keude Teunom's 18,000 residents were killed in the disaster.

Reporters were given a look at the wiped-out village of Malacca, on the Indian island of Car Nicobar, where the only structure still standing was a statue of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. About 4,000 people are missing on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian territory off the coast of Malaysia.

In New York, U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said more aid was getting to survivors, but there were still problems helping those in Indonesia.

"We are seeing that the assistance is becoming increasingly effective in all of the countries," he told reporters. "Overall I am more optimistic today than I was yesterday that we the global community will be able to face up to this enormous challenge."

Egeland said 1.8 million people in tsunami-hit countries would need food aid and that figure could rise. It would take about three days to get food to 700,000 people in Sri Lanka but much longer to reach the one million hungry people in Indonesia, he said.

He warned there were still difficulties in reaching survivors in Sumatra's Aceh province. "That is where we are behind really...90 percent of our problems are in those areas because they are more remote, because the damage was much bigger, because the roads are more damaged, because the air strips are fewer and they are more damaged."

In Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra, witnesses said rescued fisherman Sofyan was at sea when the tsunami hit Dec. 26. His boat was tossed onto the beach at Lampulo where he was trapped for a week without food and water. He was the first missing victim discovered alive since Friday.

"He's in extremely fragile condition, especially mentally," said Dr. Irwan Azwar, who treated the fisherman.

After a week of digging through rubble, rescue workers said finding more of the missing alive now bordered on hoping for miracles.

"If you survived the earthquake, you probably were killed by tsunami," said Lamsar Sipahutar, the head of the search team in Indonesia.

In India, which suffered more than 9,000 deaths, officials insisted there was still hope for survivors. But the search was essentially over in Tamil Nadu state, the southern region which bore the brunt of the country's sea surge. Veera Shanmuga Moni, a top administrator of Tamil Nadu's Nagappattinam district, said about 600 people on the missing list would soon be declared dead.

The official tally of dead from the catastrophe surpassed 123,000. But with tens of thousands still missing and presumed dead, U.N. officials said they expected the actual toll would exceed 150,000, although the exact tally will probably never be known. Five million people were homeless.

The scope of the relief effort — like the disaster — was tremendous.

The American military was mounting its largest operation in southern Asia since the Vietnam War, delivering supplies from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln stationed off Sumatra and sending Marines and water purifying equipment to Sri Lanka.

Four Indonesian navy frigates loaded with supplies arrived off the coast of Meulaboh, the fishing village that was one of Aceh province's worst-hit spots. About half the town of 40,000 was destroyed. An Associated Press reporter who visited could see fewer than 100 residents searching for food among destroyed homes along the coast.

As a signal of U.S. concern, Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites) was to begin a tour of hard-hit areas on Monday. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Powell defended the administration's efforts against criticism that the United States was slow to respond with financial aid. Washington pledged $35 million at first, but raised that to $350 million Friday.

"The American response has been appropriate. It has been scaled up as the scale of the disaster became more widely known," Powell said.

Health officials in the disaster zone said no medical crisis has yet emerged, although getting clean water and sanitation to hard-hit areas was urgent to prevent disease outbreaks.

He said the 18,000 refugees there had gotten only one aid delivery.

In Thailand, officials borrowed six elephants from the Wang Chang elephant farm in the 17th-century Thai capital of Ayuddhaya for help in clearing away wrecked buildings and other debris from the ruined resort island of Phuket and Phang Nga province.

The animals — who were also used in recreated battle scenes for the movie "Alexander" — arrived Sunday and began work immediately on the muddy, hilly terrain.

"The six were chosen because they are smart and can act on command," said Romthongsai Meephan, one of the elephant farm's owners.

The Thai government said 4,985 people died in the tsunami, including 2,230 foreigners.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra visited Phuket island on Sunday, hoping to prop up a tourism industry that is critical to the country's economy and pledging to set up a tsunami early warning system that scientists say could have saved many lives were it in place a week ago.

"Nice to meet you, enjoy your stay," Thaksin told tourists who had returned to battered Patong beach. "We'll try and make your stay happy."


Associated Press Writers Denis D. Gray in Kuede Teunom, Indonesia; Miranda Leitsinger in Phuket, Thailand; Richard Vogel in Bang Nieng, Thailand, and Neelesh Misra in Car Nicobar, India, contributed to this report.


U.S. Looks for Missing Tsunami Victims


WASHINGTON (Jan. 6) - Twelve days after a tsunami devastated areas of Asia, some 2,900 Americans are still missing. The State Department has pledged to find out what has happened to them.

"We at the State Department will spare no effort and leave no stone unturned to answer the questions that we are receiving from Americans about the welfare and whereabouts of their loved ones and friends,'' deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.

With 16 Americans already listed as fatalities, the department on Wednesday added 20 Americans as missing and presumed dead.

Nineteen of them were in Thailand and the 20th in Sri Lanka, two of the hardest-hit countries, Ereli said.

Eyewitnesses and others on the scene provided the information that led the department to presume the 20 Americans had died, he said.

"In each of these cases there is a specific reason to believe that the individual was in harm's way at the time of the tsunami,'' Ereli said.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, expanded its contribution to recovery efforts. The Army sent several helicopters to distribute supplies and dispatched about 100 people from bases in South Korea and the United States to deal with a variety of medical and logistics needs.

The Army also is sending four mortuary affairs teams from Fort Lee, Va., to help recover human remains and identify victims. Engineering support teams from the Army will help plan reconstruction.

President Bush, who has pledged the United States would provide $350 million in assistance, has personally contributed $10,000 to the relief effort, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday.

In a speech on legal issues in Collinsville, Ill., Bush praised the U.S. military for its "heroic work'' and urged Americans to continue to open their wallets.

"The most important contribution a person can make is cash,'' Bush said. "There's huge generosity here in America.''

  How to Help  
Network for Good links you to organizations that are helping the disaster victims.
· Here's What You Can Do
· Finding the Missing

The State Department has received 26,000 inquiries about Americans who had not been heard from and was able to resolve about 18,000 cases by Monday, Ereli said. Since then, he said, the number of unresolved calls has been reduced to about 2,900.

Citing the privacy of families, Ereli declined to identify the 36 Americans presumed dead by name or in any other way, except to say none was a U.S. official.

The State Department has declined to estimate how many Americans may have perished. Officials suggested many of the unlocated Americans simply may have failed to get in touch.

Last Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he did not expect a huge number of American casualties. Families "have just not been able to reach out to their loved ones or their loved one is not able to reach out to them,'' he said.

Other governments that have lost people in the disaster have provided casualty estimates and totals.

At least 60 Germans died - the highest official toll of foreigners so far - and an additional 1,000 remain missing. Sweden has reported 52 of its citizens were killed and 1,903 remain missing.

01/06/05 03:06 EST

More bodies recovered in Indonesia as plans made to feed tsunami survivors
07:53 PM EST Jan 08

  Tsunami victims are led from helicopter to medical facilities at Banda Aceh airport Saturday. (AP/Andy Eames)
Tsunami victims are led from helicopter to medical facilities at Banda Aceh airport Saturday. (AP/Andy Eames)

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (CP) - Indonesian rescue workers pulled thousands more rotting corpses from the mud and debris of flattened towns along the Sumatran coast Saturday, two weeks after surging walls of water caused unprecedented destruction on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

The death toll in 11 countries passed 150,000.

Hungry people with haunted expressions were still emerging from isolated villages on Sumatra Island.

Staggered by the scale of the disaster, aid officials announced plans to feed as many as two million survivors each day for the next six months, focusing particularly on young children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

World Food Program Executive Director James Morris said at a Jakarta news conference the operation likely would cost $180 million US.

"Many of the places where we work are remote, detached and their infrastructure has been dramatically compromised," Morris said, a day after he visited Aceh with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"We will be distributing trucks, by barges, by ships, by helicopters, by big planes."

He said the agency has now dispatched enough food in Sri Lanka to help feed 750,000 people for 15 days.

Jeff Taft-Dick, WFP country director in Sri Lanka, said that was a critical milestone "because there is now enough food around the country to feed everyone who needs it."

Meanwhile, Saturday, a plane carrying members of Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team, or DART, landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where the 200-member team will provide purified water and medical care to tsunami survivors in Ampara, a twelve-hour road trip from the capital.

Morris said the WFP was feeding 150,000 people in Indonesia and expected that to increase to 400,000 within a week and possibly reach as high as a million eventually.

As two Indonesian navy amphibious vessels zoomed ashore in Calang, hundreds of refugees lined up amid the wreckage of boats to unload supplies. Eighty per cent of Calang residents were killed in the giant waves. The Indonesian military set up two field hospitals, one with 50 beds, the other with 20.

"The tragedy was terrible but considering this, the survivors here now are in pretty good shape," said Dr. Steve Wignall, an American who works for Family Health International and was making an assessment with several other aid workers.

In other areas, victims were more vulnerable, though health officials said there were no signs yet of feared epidemics of disease.

Indonesia, which has a reputation as a base for child-trafficking gangs, said Saturday it was monitoring its borders to prevent such smuggling.

As aid poured into a region long troubled by separatist violence, Indonesian soldiers resumed patrols in Aceh province to search for rebels. International aid groups worried renewed conflict could hamper their work.

Suspected rebels fired shots early Sunday at the home of a top police official near the UN relief headquarters in Banda Aceh, officials said. There were no casualties.

An unspecified number of Free Aceh Movement rebels fired at officers guarding the home of Aceh province's deputy police chief, located about 100 metres from the UN building, said police Sgt. Bambang Hariyanpo. Police returned fire but the rebels vanished into the city, he said, adding authorities were investigating the incident.

Police and UN officials said the relief headquarters was not the target of the shooting.

The Free Aceh rebels have been fighting a low-level war against Indonesian troops for an independent homeland in Aceh for more than 20 years. They declared a unilateral ceasefire and the military said it would not target suspected rebels during the emergency but clashes have broken out in recent days.

Problems persisted in co-ordinating the humanitarian efforts. Aid groups complained dignitaries visiting to look at the devastation have choked the tiny main airport in Banda Aceh and hampered distribution of relief supplies. The airport was temporarily shut for the visits of Annan and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, for example.

"It slows things down," said Maj. Murad Khan, a spokesman for Pakistan's Tsunami Relief Task Force.

Annan toured a Sri Lankan town where hundreds of shoppers at an outdoor market were swept to their deaths. He reluctantly agreed to a government request to bypass stricken areas controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Tigers, who have fought a 20-year war for Tamil independence from the Sinhalese-dominated south, invited Annan to tour the northern province. But government officials said they could not guarantee Annan's safety.

"I'm concerned about everyone with need in the humanitarian situation," Annan said.

"But I'm also a guest of the government and we'll go where we agreed we'll go."

With volunteers and rescue workers reaching more remote areas, still more dead were found. Indonesian authorities raised their death toll estimate by nearly 3,000 to more than 100,000 and braced for tens of thousands more homeless than at first expected.

Sri Lanka, by contrast, closed scores of refugee camps as people began drifting back to their damaged homes. With 38 more confirmed deaths, the country's death toll stood at 30,718.

World governments, led by Australia and Germany, have pledged nearly $4 billion US in aid - the biggest relief package ever.

The World Bank said it will consider significantly boosting its aid, perhaps to as much as $1.5 billion. It has already pledged $175 million in assistance to the 11 countries in Asia and Africa hit by the Dec. 26 disaster but bank President James Wolfensohn said he is flexible on the amount.

"We can go up to even $1 billion to $1.5 billion, depending on the needs...our immediate focus is to provide relief to the affected people," he told a news conference at the end of a one-day visit to Sri Lanka.

The tsunami battered Sri Lanka's southern and eastern coastlines, causing heavy damage to houses, hotels and commercial buildings and devastating the country's fishing industry.

The Sri Lankan government estimates it will need between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion to rebuild.

Survivors in Indonesia struggled to put their lives back together, some straggling across debris-strewn countryside to reach larger towns - only to find those regional centres also flattened.

The relief effort is building quickly in Calang, 90 kilometres southeast of Banda Aceh, where the 1,000 survivors have been joined by 6,000 refugees even though only foundations of homes remain.

At the bustling market in the Lambaro section, women haggled over costs of chilies, bananas, chickens and goats. Barbers set up shop and old men sipped coffee at outdoor cafes.

But business was bad for fish traders, since many buyers were queasy because of the bodies washed out to sea.

"Business is down 50 per cent," said one seller, wiping the flies off five fat tunas.

"People fear the fish are feeding on the human remains."

There were candles, prayers and calls for solidarity as families of victims of the Asian tsunami joined Prime Minister Paul Martin and hundreds of other mourners Saturday in Ottawa to commemorate a "tragedy of a million griefs."

Buddhist chants mixed with Bach string sonatas as religious leaders from nearly a dozen faiths gathered on stage at the cavernous Ottawa Civic Centre for a national memorial service.

Five Canadians are officially listed as dead but 146 remain missing and the death toll is expected to rise.

© The Canadian Press, 2005


Tsunami Toll Tops 175,000, New Threat Warning

Mon Jan 17,10:03 AM ET

By Simon Gardner

GALLE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Asia's tsunami death toll soared past 175,000 Monday as Sri Lanka confirmed thousands more dead, while fears re-emerged over the safety of aid workers in Indonesia's shattered Aceh province.

Reuters Photo

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Denmark said it had information "imminent" terror attacks were planned against aid workers in Aceh, where U.S. and other foreign troops have joined relief teams clearing rubble from the Dec. 26 disaster which killed 115,000 in that province alone.

"We have received information from sources abroad that somebody would be planning an attack today," Danish Foreign Ministry official Niels Erik Andersen told Danish radio.

Indonesia's foreign minister dismissed the report as "unfounded rumor." But it reignited fears that aid workers might become political targets in Indonesia, which has seen both a separatist rebellion in Aceh and deadly bomb attacks targeting Westerners blamed on an Islamic group linked to al Qaeda.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz urged political opponents in both Indonesia and Sri Lanka -- facing a separatist rebellion of its own -- to put aside their differences and concentrate on relief work.

"Hopefully they will realize on all sides that the stakes that they are fighting for are relatively trivial," he said on arriving in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan officials said another 7,275 people were now known to have died in the Dec. 26 catastrophe, taking the national total to 38,195. The jump was not due to the sudden discovery of more bodies, but rather a backlog of figures from remote areas.

In a quick visit to a small village near Galle, in southern Sri Lanka, Wolfowitz clambered over rubble to reach a group of women waiting outside an elementary school.

"We are very sorry about what happened. The whole world wants to help you, my country especially," said Wolfowitz, who is touring the countries worst hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Sri Lanka announced a reconstruction drive to build 15 new towns on its southern and eastern coasts. The government will help people rebuild in safe areas, or simply construct new towns.

"We were not prepared at all ... to face a disaster like this," said President Chandrika Kumaratunga. "The people of this country faced it effectively, they are in a position to rebuild."

Some Sri Lankans were already rebuilding, defying a government ban to put up houses and hotels close to the shore.

"I'm worried about my family but I'm also worried about the future of my children. This is my business. How  meters (yards) from the beach in the southern town of Paiyagala South.


Relief work rumbled on in Indonesia's Aceh, and one senior international aid official said the province was rebounding so well from the disaster that emergency assistance could wind up fairly quickly.

"I think we are fortunate that things are not as bad as we feared," said Patrick Webb, chief of nutrition at the United Nations (news - web sites)' World Food Program (WFP).

"Malnutrition is not widespread. Diseases are not rampant yet," he said in the Acehnese capital, Banda Aceh.

"They are fortunate that there has been this massive response, which will make recovering a lot faster than it ever has got a chance of in Darfur for example, or Afghanistan."

In Banda Aceh, monsoon rains flooded tsunami-scarred streets as overloaded drainage ditches ceased working. While the half of the city that took the worst damage from the wave remains largely closed, shopkeepers who did open reported good business.

"Even if it happens again, it's just fate. We'll face it. All of our customers were happy to see us open," said Shugino, 49, sitting on a plastic chair in front of his restaurant.

Jakarta officials promised to overhaul the country's relief program amid fears mismanagement and corruption might divert some of the aid dollars pledged by donors around the world.

Information Minister Sofyan Djalil said the reorganization would include a "credible" oversight scheme to monitor the huge sums earmarked for Indonesia, long ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Indonesia is expected to receive the bulk of more than $7 billion from governments, corporations and individuals pledged for tsunami aid.


For many of those affected, however, the tsunami remained a story of bodies and grief.

In Thailand, Prime Minister Goran Persson of Sweden -- which lost hundreds of people -- visited a Buddhist temple turned mortuary with his Norwegian and Finnish counterparts, Kjell Magne Bondevik and Matti Vanhanen.

"I'm impressed and I'm also extremely humbled because they're doing a very difficult job here under difficult circumstances," Persson said.

The temple houses hundreds of corpses from nearby Khao Lak resort which forensics experts are trying to identify, a crucial step for families left without a body to grieve over.

Thailand saw more than 5,300 people killed in the tsunami, half of them foreign tourists, and tens of thousands of bodies around the region may never be recovered.

In Europe, families struggled in legal limbo as they seek to unlock bank accounts, release assets and ensure life insurance is paid for those lost in the disaster.

Carina Fabretat, who works with Swedes affected by the tsunami, said official death registration was important even for people who had accepted that their loved ones were gone.

"They need to end it by getting a death certificate," she said. "Until they have a name on a piece of paper they still have hopes."

Global Tsunami Death Toll Tops 226,000

- Reuters

By Jerry Norton and Dean Yates

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (Reuters) - The global death toll from the Asian tsunami shot above 226,000 Wednesday after Indonesia's Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of tens of thousands of people previously listed as missing.

The ministry raised the country's death toll to 166,320. It had previously given a figure of 95,450 while Indonesia's Ministry of Social Affairs had put the death toll at around 115,000 before it stopped counting.

Dodi Indrasanto, a director at the health ministry's department of health affairs, said the new death total reflected the latest reports from the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, which were directly in the path of the killer tsunami spawned by a magnitude 9 earthquake the day after Christmas.

The new figure lifted the total global death toll from the tsunami disaster to 226,566, although the number continues to rise as more deaths are reported around the region.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, speaking before the health ministry released its latest figures, told a donors conference in Jakarta that the true extent of the catastrophe defied description.

"Perhaps we will never know the exact scale of the human casualties," he said.

Indrasanto said the health ministry report, which had just 6,245 people still listed as missing, had been sent to Yudhoyono late Wednesday.

The ministry's figures said 617,159 people were still homeless in northern Sumatra more than three weeks after the killer wave struck.


The staggering death count came as Indonesia said it was hopeful of holding talks with rebels in Aceh, where the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) has waged a bloody, three-decade long battle for independence from Jakarta's rule.

Security fears prompted by the GAM conflict have been a worrying backdrop to the massive international relief effort in Aceh, where huge stretches of coastline were laid waste by the earthquake and tsunami that followed.

"Behind the cloud there must be a silver lining. Behind the scenes, a process is happening toward reconciliation," Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said.

Wirajuda said he hoped the talks would take place by the end of the month, but he could give neither a date nor a place. A spokesman for GAM's exiled leadership in Sweden said there had been no progress on talks.

"We haven't had any concrete response from the Indonesian side," said Bakhtiar Abdullah.

A U.N. official in Meulaboh, the province's second city, said emergency aid drops would have to be sharply increased in order to avoid hunger in outlying areas.

GAM's leaders have repeatedly welcomed relief efforts spearheaded by the United Nations (news - web sites) and the rebels have said they would not attack aid workers or convoys.


Political concerns have also plagued relief efforts in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil-rebel controlled northeast is waiting to see if it will get a piece of the government's $3.5 billion tsunami reconstruction program.

"The tsunami didn't wash away political divisions. In fact it may have made them worse," said Jehan Perera, director of the National Peace Council in Sri Lanka.

"What we have here is a moment that will define the peace process and politics for years."

Most of those swept up in the tsunami disaster -- which ripped coastal areas of Indian Ocean nations as far away as Africa and left more than 1.5 million people homeless around the region -- had far more pressing concerns.

Across Aceh's ravaged west coast, survivors were few and many villages were virtual ghost towns. In others, a mosque was the only building left standing.

In the province's second city Meulaboh, almost sliced in half by the killer wave, mountains of rubble smoldered and electricity was intermittent. But some shops and markets were busy, and food appeared to be available.

Daniel Augstburger, head of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the coastal city of Meulaboh, said not enough help was reaching people outside of major urban areas.

"The French are starting to move food, of course the Americans....are moving food out, but this has to increase ten-fold, I would say," Augstburger told Reuters, adding that tsunami victims also needed items such as clothes and cooking utensils.

In Sri Lanka, residents of a tsunami-ravaged town packed up and left -- ready to re-establish their community 1.5 km (about one mile) inland as a precaution against any other surprises from the sea. "This will give our people a better future, a safer future," said fisherman M.J. Raseek, a resident of Hambantota who planned to follow his town away from the coast.

The International Monetary Fund (news - web sites) said it hoped to approve Sri Lanka's emergency request for up to $160 million in assistance, while Indonesian officials told donors that the tsunami would likely cost the country around $4.5 billion.

Governments, aid groups, individuals, corporations and international agencies have pledged more than $7 billion in aid to Asia's tsunami victims. But donors have to date promised just $739 million of the $977 million the U.N. system says is needed in emergency aid to meet the basic needs of victims over the next six months, according to Kevin Kennedy, a senior official of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
New Quake Rocks Devastated Sumatra Island

.c The Associated Press

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) - A strong earthquake shook buildings and sent people scrambling from their homes early Monday in Banda Aceh, but no injuries or damage were reported in the Indonesian city that was devastated by a massive quake and tsunami two weeks ago.

The magnitude 6.2 temblor struck at 5:13 a.m. off the northern coast of Sumatra island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Web site.

The quake was centered at a depth of about nine miles under the seabed in the Indian Ocean, about 40 miles southwest of Banda Aceh, the USGS said.

Sumatra, which was closest to the epicenter of the Dec. 26 magnitude 9.0 (9.2) (which is a 10.2 under the old earthquake measurement system of 2004) earthquake that triggered the killer tsunami, has accounted for about two-thirds of the 150,000 people known to have died in the disaster, which ravaged 11 countries in Asia and Africa.

In Banda Aceh alone, 40,000 people were killed and many more were left homeless and traumatized after giant waves tore through the city.

On the Net:    

01/09/05 21:30 EST

Source:: Sydney Morning Herald


Quake aftershocks jolt Andamans, Chennai (LEAD, Changing dateline):

[India News]: Chennai, Jan 24 : An earthquake jolted the Andaman and Nicobar islands and Chennai Monday causing panic but officials said these were part of the aftershocks continuing since the tsunami disaster.

The earthquake in the Andamans, with its epicentre west of Great Nicobar, measured 6.5 on the Richter Scale.

Parts of Chennai suffered mild tremors that scared residents, particularly those in high-rise buildings. Many fled to the streets.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) director A.K. Shukla said in New Delhi that the quake was "not unusual" because it was in the series of 140 aftershocks of over 5.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale registered from Sumatra to the Andamans since the Dec 26 quake that had triggered tsunamis.

"Such aftershocks are expected for some months though in diminishing frequency and intensity," Shukla said. Aftershocks following the 2001 Gujarat earthquake are still being recorded, he said.

Monday's quake is expected to have impacted the already affected buildings in the Nicobar islands and caused turbulence in the ocean.

Indo-Asian News Service

Tue, January 25, 2005

Aftershocks rock Southeast Asia

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A powerful aftershock from last month's tsunami-triggering earthquake and a quake in central Indonesia sparked panic yesterday in at least two countries where people feared another giant killer wave. The two quakes, both magnitude 6.3, caused little damage and no reported injuries, and neither generated a tsunami. But they jangled nerves across the Indian Ocean region hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami, which killed at least 162,000 people, including at least six Canadians. Nineteen Canadians were officially listed as missing.

Panic briefly spread through the streets of the Indian coastal city of Madras after residents felt an earthquake centred in the Bay of Bengal, about 1,500 kilometres away, near the Andaman Islands.

Samuel Cherian, the senior police officer in Campbell Bay, the southernmost island in the Andaman archipelago, felt the quake but said there were no reports of any unusual sea surges near the islands.

The quake, centred 1,740 km southeast of Calcutta, was considered an aftershock of last month's much more powerful magnitude-9.0 quake, seismologists said.

"It is an aftershock. It occurred on the same fault as the Dec. 26 earthquake," said A.K. Shukla, a director of the government-run Meteorology Department in New Delhi.

Earlier yesterday, a pre-dawn quake under Indonesia's Sulawesi island sent thousands of people running to higher ground in the city of Palu. About 30 wooden houses and some shops were damaged, police said.


An enormous number of UFO sightings before Tsunami and earthquake in South and Southeast Asia – were they trying to warn?
Staff reporter
December 31, 2004

Was it a coincidence? Lots of people now from the Tsunami and earthquake hit areas are reporting about strange Unidentified Flying Objects they saw a few days before the mega quake and Tsunami. People in Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Island as well as many in Indonesia were reporting for some time about strange flying objects in the sky.

The local media in these areas did not know what to do with the reported sightings. But it seems now from the reports that many UFOs were in the sky and were trying to communicate something.

Some even are conjecturing that this horrific Tsunami and earthquake may be some kind of experiment. In Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman Island of India, last week some tourists saw strange silent flying objects. In Sumatra, remote places also had similar experiences for quite some time.

According to some UFO experts, UFOs always hover around the epicenter of major calamities. They somehow sense these coming natural disasters. Some believe that they try and communicate with us to warn. Some even believe these UFOs simulate natural disasters in the earth.

India especially in the Himalayas, China, Indonesia were experiencing heavy UFO sightings in recent days. Remote areas of Bangladesh, Mayanmar, and Andaman Island, Sri Lanka have also recently reported such sightings.

Indian Government and the military are quiet for a long time about these numerous UFO sightings. Some believe that India in recent days have been contacted like America was in the middle of the last century. 

The recent excessive UFO sightings all over the world are forecasting serious disasters in the world. Many people believe, we are in for a rough time as far as earthquakes; volcano and similar natural calamities are concerned.

The lining up of Sun, Earth, Moon, Venus and Jupiter is dangerous. And this has caused some to belief that can havoc the earth. As a matter of fact India> has seen many earthquakes in last few months.

Earthquakes in India are not common like Japan.

It is possible that UFOs are trying to communicate to us to warn about the planetary positioning effects on the Earth’s tectonic plates and crust.

In older days, Mayans and Egyptians were always scared about planets lining up in one line. How did they know that earthquakes are eminent? It may be they did communicate with the extra-terrestrials and understood about planetary angular momentum theory that we just started learning this week!

Indonesia Earthquake Triggers Panic

Wednesday February 9, 2005 6:31 PM


Associated Press Writer

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) - A strong earthquake struck Indonesia's tsunami-ravaged Aceh province Wednesday, shaking buildings as terrified residents fled for higher ground in cars and on foot while police shouted ``Tsunami! Tsunami!''

Entire families jumped aboard nearby scooters and passing vehicles and sped off, snarling traffic on the main two-lane thoroughfare. Some headed to mosques, whose sturdy foundations and upper floors offered protection from the killer waves in the Dec. 26 disaster. Women screamed and sobbed.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The 6.2-magnitude tremor struck about 8:30 p.m. and was centered beneath the Indian Ocean floor, about 65 miles southwest of the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, the Banda Aceh Geophysics Center said.

The U.S. Geological Survey registered slightly different readings, estimating the quake's magnitude at 5.7 and its epicenter about 50 miles southwest of Banda Aceh. A magnitude-6 quake can cause widespread damage if it is centered in a densely populated area.

The shaking lasted less than five seconds and was felt across a wide swath of Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. Even before the tremors subsided, police officers and soldiers began shouting ``Tsunami! Tsunami!'' causing mayhem for about a half hour.

Panicked residents evacuated buildings and raced in cars and on foot for the highest ground, a hill on the outskirts of the city.

At one mosque, where dozens of frightened residents had gathered, officials urged calm.

``Do not panic. God willing, nothing serious has happened,'' a voice said over the loudspeaker.

Aftershocks have hit the region frequently since the December earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 9.0, and the following tsunami that killed more than 160,000 people in 11 Indian Ocean nations. Most of the victims were in Aceh province, closest to the epicenter.

Also Wednesday, a powerful earthquake rocked the Pacific seabed near Vanuatu island, but there were no immediate reports of damage. A Pacific warning network issued a bulletin saying the 6.7-magnitude quake did not generate a tsunami.

Although Vanuatu is on the same tectonic plate as Sumatra, the temblor was not connected with the Dec. 26 quake, seismologists said.

On Sri Lanka, Tamil Tiger rebels canceled a key meeting with international donors - a move threatening reconstruction efforts.

The rebels had complained that aid supplies weren't reaching them and blamed the government for the killing of one of their top leaders as he finished overseeing reconstruction efforts in a rebel stronghold in eastern Sri Lanka, one of the regions hardest hit by the killer waves. The government denied involvement in Tuesday's killing.

Tens of thousands of people are still missing, though officials say it's too early to add them to the toll with bodies still being pulled from the rubble. Indonesia said Wednesday it had found 640 more corpses, raising the country's confirmed death toll to at least 116,396.

Some 40 ethnic Chinese in Aceh prayed Wednesday at a temple to mark the Lunar New Year in a somber version of what normally is a raucous, joyous holiday.

The worshippers, from bent, old women to infants in scarlet brocade vests, filled the Vihara Dharma Bhakti temple in the provincial capital. They lifted bundles of joss sticks, and bowed toward altars in glass cases.

``We feel a great emptiness inside, but we're here to give thanks for our protection and to pray for the forgiveness of sins and peacefulness of those who died,'' said Lai Nier Sin, a hairdresser whose business and older brother's family were washed away in the tsunami.

About 1,000 of Aceh's 5,000 Chinese-Indonesians were killed in the disaster.


Power of tsunami earthquake heavily underestimated

  • 16:01 09 February 2005
  • news service
  • Maggie McKee
The earthquake that created the devastating Asian tsunami on 26 December 2004 was three times more powerful than first thought, say researchers analysing long-period seismic waves.

The finding could upgrade the quake to the second strongest ever recorded and explain why the tsunami caused such great damage across the ocean in Sri Lanka and India.

Earthquakes are classified on the Richter scale by their largest-amplitude seismic wave. These seismic waves come in a variety of periods, or wavelengths - but only the most powerful quakes pack a lot of energy into long-period waves.

Seismologists initially used seismic waves with periods of about 300 seconds to set the magnitude of the Sumatran earthquake at 9.0 - making it the fifth most powerful event on record.

Now, seismologists Seth Stein and Emile Okal at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, US, have scrutinised seismograms taken from 7 stations around the world in the week or so following the earthquake. They looked for the longest-period waves possible - those lasting about 3200 seconds (53 minutes).

"We found, to our surprise, that there was three times more energy out there than at the 300-second period," Stein told New Scientist. "It was colossal." The new work reclassifies the earthquake on the logarithmic Richter scale at magnitude 9.3 - second only to the 9.5-magnitude quake recorded in Chile in 1960.

Built-up pressure

The Asian earthquake occurred at the eastern edge of the Indian Ocean where, over millions of years, the Indian tectonic plate has been disappearing beneath the Burma plate. This "subduction" zone had been locked for perhaps 200 years before the built-up pressure was finally released in the slippage of 26 December.

The Burma plate rebounded upwards by about 10 metres at the quake's epicentre - setting the deadly tsunami waves in motion. And the process continued along the border between the two plates, causing the earth to rupture along the fault line - running from south to north. But seismologists are not sure exactly where the rip stopped.

Some think the rupture only made it through the southern third of the 1200-kilometre-long zone that was rocked by aftershocks. "But if the earthquake is three times more powerful then previously believed, that's telling you the fault area is three times bigger," says Stein. "We think the entire aftershock zone ruptured." The northern two-thirds of the zone may have taken longer to slip, which is why its energy was released in longer-period waves.

This could be actually be positive news for survivors living near the zone. Having released such a large amount of energy, Stein thinks it will take another few hundred years for the zone to build up the strain necessary for another huge earthquake.

Localised tsunamis

But he warns that smaller earthquakes could still occur, perhaps spawning localised tsunamis. Furthermore, other locked sections of the fault - further to the south, near Java, for example - could still rupture catastrophically.

If the rupture did indeed occur along the whole length of the aftershock zone, it could explain why some distant regions were so devastated by the tsunami. While the lower third of the zone directed tsunami waves to the southwest, the upper portion has a different orientation and sent waves due west - straight towards hard-hit Sri Lanka and southern India. However, other factors, such as the topography of the sea floor, may also explain why the waves gathered so much force in those regions.

Other seismologists have also calculated that the Asian earthquake was significantly larger than initially thought. Teh-Ru Alex Song, at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, US, and colleagues used long-period waves from about 20 seismometers around the world to confirm that the earthquake was two to three times more powerful than magnitude 9.0 .

But he says it is not clear yet how fast or slow the slip proceeded along the fault. The group arrived at their preliminary result on Sunday and will continue to refine their analysis.

Song hopes seismologists will develop a technique to analyse and convey the magnitude of any earthquakes that could spawn tsunamis as they actually happen - information that could come from waves with periods of 200 to 500 seconds.

"You need that kind of index so everybody around the world knows the magnitude and you can issue a tsunami warning to local people," he told New Scientist.,574415369528%5e23109,00.html

15,000 flee as freak tide hits
From correspondents in New Delhi
May 22, 2005

AT least 15,000 villagers were evacuated after a freak tide caused a surge of seawater in the southern Indian state of Kerala, triggering memories of December's devastating tsunami, officials said today.

Seawater crashed into fishing hamlets in Trivandrum, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Thrissur and Kannur districts, state revenue minister K.M Mani said.

Meteorologists did not say what caused the tide.

"District officials with the help of the police shifted people living in the coastal belt into 16 makeshift camps as seawater swept into their homes," said Mani.

"The high tide has started receding, but people have been asked not to go out into the sea in their fishing boats. Most of the villagers are too scared to think of taking any chances as it has revived memories of the tsunami."

Most people opted to stay at the camps despite the sea being calm.

Some 10,273 Indians died and 5823 were listed as missing after the December 26 tsunami, when towering waves slammed into the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

The Asahi Shimbun

The March earthquake that struck near Nias island off Sumatra was so powerful that it created about 10 new islands, Japan's Geographical Survey Institute said.

Researchers, led by Mikio Tobita, spotted the new islets on images taken by the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite, GSI officials said earlier this month.

The March 28 temblor had a magnitude of 8.7, but unlike the Dec. 26 quake off Sumatra, it did not trigger killer tsunami.

GSI researchers said they compared images taken in February with those from April. They found the seabed near the northwestern coast of Nias island upheaved about 2 meters due to crustal movements
caused by the quake.

This created about 10 new islands ranging in length from 100 meters to 1.5 kilometers, they said.

The quake also pushed the northwestern coastline out to sea by up to 1 km, they said.(IHT/Asahi: May 28,2005)