The Cause and Effect of the Tsunami in Thailand in 2004

The Cause and Effect of the Tsunami in Thailand in 2004
The Cause and Effect of the Tsunami in Thailand in 2004
The tsunami in Thailand that occurred on December 26, 2004, was by far the largest tsunami catastrophe in human history. It was triggered by a magnitude 9.1-9.3 earthquake along the Indian-Australian subduction zone off the northern coast of Sumatra. The tsunami waves traveled primarily in the east to west direction and caused major damage along the coasts of southern Thailand. Unpredictably, it was a violent earthquake beneath the sea that initiated the massive waves and struck more than a dozen countries in Southern Asia.
It also destroyed thousands of miles of coastline and even submerged entire islands permanently. Throughout the region, the tsunami killed more than 150,000 people, and a million more were hurt, homeless, and without food or drinkable water, making it perhaps the most destructive tsunami in the modern history. In spite of peninsular Thailand's location facing the northern part of this subduction zone, the lack of any written historical records, together with the lack of any major local seismic activity, the tsunami caused thousands of fatalities and huge economic losses in the popular tourist regions in Thailand. Immediately after the disaster, numerous organizations and individual citizens have helped out and contributed to this devastating tsunami. Indeed, the tsunami in Thailand was a worldwide event, with significant wave action felt around the world. In this context, I am focusing more on the key features of the tsunami?s natural causes, the psychological effects on citizens, the perspective of socio-economic impacts and the consequences of the tsunami calamity.
What triggered this horrific natural disaster that took place off the western coast of Sumatra? The earthquake of December 2004 was aroused because of the grinding between two large plates in the Indian Ocean. Fatally, it was so intense that it literally caused something far more deadly. The epicenter of this earthquake was in the Indian Ocean, just off the western coast of the island of Sumatra. When the Burma plate cracked, the unexpected movement shifted trillions of tons of water. Unfortunately, that mass of water moved up to the ocean surface, where it stretched outward in violent waves. That is why, they call it a tsunami since it usually occur underwater earthquakes, and these waves are forced by the energy of the quake. Similarly, it can happen by coastal landslides, the collision of a meteor, or the explosion of an underwater volcano. (Catastrophe in S.A. 12)
Unfortunately, the tsunami had rapidly sped up to the Thailand coast, estimated about 300 miles (482.8km) from the earth quake?s epicenter, and then moved to India and Sri Lanka. Sadly, the waves of the tsunami hit hard and furious as fast as it came to the shoreline. The popular tourist resort of Phuket was badly hit, and within hours, the aftermath of the tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people, at least as many missing, and such scenery had become unrecognizable throughout the area. One fisherman name Bustami, was in his boat at the time when the quake hit. He describes the horrifying event that he sensed a weird feeling of the ocean around him ?That must have been when the earthquake hit,? he remembers, ?a sound I?d never heard before and I thought it was the sound of bombs? (2). Luckily, he was fortunate enough to even survive, for tens of thousands of people that have been killed by the waves. Almost the entire coastlines changed within a matter of minutes, and the island suddenly vanished. Numerous citizens became homeless that in some cases, the entire cities and villages were quite literally swept away; when the water finally receded, only a tangled mass of rubble remained. (In the Wake of Tragedy 1)
We need to ask ourselves why were there no warning signs for the tragedy in Southern Asia? Could it make an enormous difference if a tsunami-warning system could have existed in the countries ringing the Indian Ocean? As the horrible toll of death and damage continues to escalate in southern Asia, it becomes more visible that lives could have been saved if a tsunami warning system had been set. However, with just minutes notice, and clear orders to escape, various citizens who had no clue what was going on, or how to respond, could have escaped to safeguard. Absolutely, the tsunami and earthquake that triggered it are natural phenomena and we, as humans, cannot presumably control the inevitably occurrence of natural disaster. In addition, if the proper scientific equipment would have been in place, the pattern of a tsunami could have been also be identified and forecasted. (World Socialist Website 1)
According to Gail Stewart, experts say that a tsunami warning system has existed but only in the Pacific Ocean. Evidently, there was no such system in place in the Indian Ocean. Specialists declare that these tsunamis are fairly common in the Pacific, more than 90 percent arise. She also mentions that not only a tsunami warning system costs a huge amount of money, but also it did not occur to some people to build a warning system for such an unusual occurrence had never seemed like an imperative investment. However, Dr Laura Kong a tsunami expert explains that ?It?s an inexact science now? (17). Therefore, it is an unpredictable incidence no one knows exactly when a tsunami will occur since every earthquake doesn?t automatically trigger a tsunami. In the lack of planning, preparation and additional equipment, it is hard to make accurate predictions. Moreover, time is of the essence, since tsunami waves travel at speeds of up to 800kmh, as fast as an airliner, depending on the depth of the water. (Catastrophe in S.A. 14)
In the effects of the tsunami, the response was unsystematic and weary. The aftershock of this massive tsunami left so many citizens in misery and suffering. As Michael Elliott describes, the horrific calamity in the Southern Asia was the worse disaster that ever happened before. He says that it was ?truly a global event? (5). In other words, it wasn?t just the country of Thailand that experienced this massive tsunami in fact, few other countries had reached the impact of the tsunami as well. Moreover, the tragedy gave us the opportunity to see human nature at its best, especially the majority of the victims of the tsunami were children, and a great number of adults also perished. In the wake of this tragedy, people from all over the world had witnessed this calamity and recognized the need for help and support.
Without a doubt, the tsunami in Thailand may ultimately have been unavoidable, but the resulting outcomes of the tsunami especially to the citizens were psychologically very painful. Volunteer workers found out that the extensive psychological problems caused a major mental trauma for children and parents, and seriously increased the vulnerability of many children. For example, one mother is angry and dismayed that she couldn?t save her children any longer. She couldn?t even describe of what just happened, explains one observer, but instead ?her eyes tear and she waves her hand in front of her heart in small, frantic circles? (57). Indeed, she will carry and dwell on that haunted fear and pain for the rest of her life. It?s really hard to fathom having someone you loved the most that in a matter of minutes they are totally gone forever. One relief worker describes the horrific failure of the tsunami that the countless of societies were besieged by feelings of guilt particularly for those parents who lost their children that were killed instantly from the tsunami. Surely, guilt over lost children is simply hard to believe as to why did it happen to them so rapidly? It?s not fair as a parent, to have to deal with this kind of ordeal knowing that their children are suddenly disappeared out of their sight. It?s bad enough after seeing their children get hurt physically than having to grasp the reality that they are actually dead. Counselors say that the remarkable shame is totally reasonable particularly for those mournful parents, who are experiencing an intense mental pain, sensed that they were unsuccessful to do what parents should do to protect their own children. (Catastrophe in S.A. 56)
As a child psychologist points out that the great sufferings of emotional pain can be felt among the children. Consequently, we shouldn?t make these children feel worse, above all, the ordeal and awfulness of losing their family and home were horrible enough. One relief worker says that ?the children have been through a massive shock? And she defends, ?we shouldn?t make life even harder by uprooting them? (61). In other words, these children don?t need anymore trauma on their lives. Besides, these orphan children now really need all the love and support around the world emotionally and spiritually.
Another psychological effect of the tsunami is dealing with the dead bodies. In reality, recognizing the bodies of loved ones is an extremely exhausting process. Stewart describes that ?numerous of dead bodies were laid out in rows, and sometimes hundreds at a time.? But Stewart also points out, ?bodies were transported to a central location in each village or town? (41). Certainly, it is startling to grasp how many citizens are greatly affected by this devastating disturbance. For instance, one woman illustrates her experience throughout the consequences of the tsunami. She describes that ?everywhere I go, I see bodies all over the entire surroundings.? and she says ?the expressions on their faces both terrify and depress me deeply? (44). Definitely, it will give us the creepy feeling and an alarming thought to imagine of how she feels and what its like of going through this entire unspeakable event. (Catastrophe in S.A. 44)
With the destruction of such scale it is foreseeable that a large collapse could also be felt through the perspective of socio-economic impact and the consequences of the tsunami calamity. Unfortunately, the fishing industries of the entire region are the most critical damaged after the tsunami. Communities along the coastal region depend largely on fishing, as their sources of income. The direct impacts on the fishing industry includes the destruction of the boats, death of the workers, loss of equipment and the renovation of the coastal landscape. Many fishermen are wretchedly devastated and puzzled by their decision if they would determine to go fishing once again, and to some fishermen they are hesitant to return to the sea. One fisherman explains that ?since my childhood, I?ve known nothing more closely than the sea,? he also concludes, ?Now I hate it? (97). Absolutely, I would feel the same way too, knowing that he is used to this means of livelihood for a long time since his childhood. It is understandable the fact that he feels disgusted to a place to fish and had become an erratic opponent to these fishermen. (Catastrophe in S.A. 85)
Although many fishermen feel that they would rather find another type of job away from the coast, is clearly reasonable idea to sense this approach. However, they also predicted that looking for another type of labor is impossible considering they just had a calamity in their region, and it is apparently going to be a lot harder for them to look for another occupation. It is more likely that they would have to go fishing again since it?s the only source of income for their family to survive. One local fisherman states that ?I?m afraid, but I have to do it because my daughter needs an education? (99). It is depressing to hear this kind of utterance from a fisherman?s point of view who?s willing to do anything just so he can give his daughter a better future. (Catastrophe in S.A. 86)
Interestingly, I believe the citizens in Thailand can transform the catastrophic event into an opportunity for the future. Even though the tsunami of December 2004 ended in a huge death toll, ongoing trauma and homelessness of millions of Asians, still they can recuperate from this entire horrific event. If any good at all is to come from this adversity on a human scale, it will certainly be considered by the compassion and generosity that the world reveals to the survivors. I must admit that I find very difficult to let it sink in my brain the fact that it can happen to all of us anywhere and any time around the globe. It might not be a tsunami that these citizens have experienced, but there are other natural disasters we can stumble upon as well. Surely, it has been a great experience for me to write this paper and to discover the truth about the tsunami and the total effects of what these people have to deal with.

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