Chennai, Dec 26: Today, December 26, marks the tenth anniversary of the killer Tsunami that originated in Indian Ocean in 2004. The giant waves killed at least 2,20,000 people in the region.
The Indonesian province of Aceh, close to the epicentre of the 9.3 magnitude underwater earthquake that launched the Tsunami, was the worst hit place. More than 1,68,000 people were dead or missing in Indonesia.
Srilanka, India, Maldives and Malaysia were the other fatally affected countries. At least 20,000 people were dead or missing in India. The victims were mostly fishermen folks and thousands of foreign and domestic holidaymakers enjoying Christmas on beaches.
The devastation caused by the tsunami was so omungous that researchers say at least 1.7 million were left homeless in 18 countries.
In Srilanka, an overcrowded passenger train was washed away by the waves, killing more than 1700 people.
The giant earthquake that triggered the tidal waves is regarded as the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. Within hours of the earthquake, killer waves hit the coastlines of 11 countries. The Indian Ocean tsunami which started from near Jakarta in Indonesia travelled as far as 3,000 miles to reach the coasts of east Africa.
Not many animals were found dead in the disasters. In Indonesia, it was reported that many animals were seen fleeing for high ground minutes before the tsunami arrived.
In India, most of the casualties arose from the coastal areas of the southern state Tamil Nadu. Among the 5,640 people missing, nearly all of them were from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Since the tsunami that struck Tamil Nadu, at least 3 major cyclones have hit the state's coastal regions - Nisha in 2008; Thane in 2011 and Nilam in 2012.
10 years after the disaster
A decade after the disaster, all the countries have managed to rebuild the devastated regions.
As a Huffington Post article says, the response to the disaster proved that humanity is left in the world. After the waves hit almost 18 countries, individual donors, governments, NGOs, aid foundations poured in to help the victims like never before. At the same time, the corruption watchdogs across the world raised allegations of relief fund misappropriation by the countries.
The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission created the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System to create "tsunami resilient" communities in the region.
India has not only developed an effective early warning system but is also capable of providing advisories to 25 countries on the Indian Ocean rim.
Learning its lesson from the disaster, India has set up a centre capable of detecting the tsunamigeneic earthquakes and issuing tsunami warnings based on the seismic information in less than 10 minutes after the occurrence of earthquake in the Indian Ocean.
Established in 2007 at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), the Indian Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) monitors tsunamis and provides timely advisories leaving a response time of about 10-20 minutes even for a near source region in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and a few hours for the mainland.
The facility has a real-time network of seismic stations, tsunami buoys, tide gauges and 24x7 operational warning centre to detect earthquakes in two potential source regions.
The centre receives data via satellite from tsunami buoys in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. These buoys are equipped with water pressure sensors to detect any rise in water levels.
During last seven years, it recorded 37 undersea earthquakes and issued a warning only once (in 2012) for three islands in Andaman and Nicobar when an undersea temblor of 8.7 occurred.
(With IANS inputs)