Long-term environmental damage was severe as well, with villages, tourist resorts, farmland, and fishing grounds demolished or inundated with debris, bodies, and plant-killing salt water. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. Indian Ocean tsunami of Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Recovery was steady in the eastern and southern zones but was….
Dar es Salaam by the Indian Ocean tsunami; the government was criticized for not doing enough to warn the public about the impending threat.
The most destructive tsunami ever recorded occurred on December 26, , after an earthquake displaced the seabed off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. More than , people were killed by a series of waves that flooded coasts from Indonesia to Sri Lanka and even washed ashore on the…. History at your fingertips. Knowing a community's tsunami risk: hazard, vulnerability and exposure. The city of Heraklion Crete has thus developed a very detailed plan not only of exposed zones, but also of the most vulnerable spots. To do this, the study integrated numerous factors relating to the structure of the habitat and the physical environment into a GIS, and also gathered socio-economic data Papathoma et al, Avoiding new development in tsunami run-up areas to minimise future tsunami losses.
Opting for specific developments in zones exposed to tsunamis by work on specific sites for instance, raising levels. Applying specific building standards to new buildings resistance to wave impact, consolidation of foundations etc so as to minimise damage by tsunamis. In Banda Aceh, the work by Boen did indeed show that the buildings constructed according to anti-seismic specifications resisted the tsunami, while the others were shattered by the wave.
Protecting existing buildings and infrastructures in the exposed zones by anti-tsunami embankments or walls, which, although costly and not attractive to the eye, have proved efficient, in particular in certain exposed bays in Japan Pons, a, b. Taking specific precautions when establishing infrastructures that are needed during crises hospitals, fire stations, civilian protection etc. Drawing up evacuation plans. Here there are two possible solutions: firstly "horizontal" evacuation, consisting in withdrawal inland towards high ground, and secondly "vertical" evacuation, consisting in finding refuge in the upper storeys of buildings.
This second solution is recommended when the time for horizontal evacuation is very short, when the population density is very high, and when the means for horizontal evacuation roads, bridges etc are few, or in the case of islands with few relief features e. In zones where buildings are not very high, the construction of high platforms in coastal villages can be envisaged. This was indeed the chosen option in the last decade in the Ganges delta in Bangladesh Kempf, b , an area chronically affected by flooding and tropical cyclones causing temporary rises in water levels.
Indeed, while it is probable that the construction of more robust buildings is not economically viable to guard against exceptional events such as a major tsunami occurring only every years, it is nevertheless important to underline that measures of this sort would also substantially reduce losses in case of earthquakes and storms, which are for their part frequent events in the region. In Aceh province, Sumatra, the authorities have gone even further. All the coastal towns are to be moved inland and protected from the sea by a buffer zone of two kilometres. Inside this buffer zone, it is to be forbidden to build houses, office buildings, markets or shopping precincts.
The buffer zone is to be divided into three parts. Globally, it does seem difficult to enforce regulations of this sort in countries in the South where fishing is one of the resources enabling populations to survive in the coastal areas. In addition, "spontaneous" settlement is widespread, especially in zones suffering internal armed conflict, as in northern Sumatra Fau, It therefore seems complicated to enforce the strict application of certain measures of territorial development.
Another important aspect is that the decision to outline a buffer zone of two kilometres applies only to Aceh province. We will thus have to wait for another Indonesian island to undergo a coastal disaster for it to use the example of Aceh province to redevelop assuming the Aceh model is a success.
This should mainly target the education of children, who are very vulnerable to this risk, starting in primary school, in particular using strip cartoons ITIC, undated ; periodic evacuation exercises should also be implemented. In this way, the next time the coastal populations feel an earthquake and see the sea receding abnormally for a few minutes, they will know it is time to take refuge inland or on high ground.
It takes only a short time to register this simple notion, but it can save lives. A study conducted among Western tourists who witnessed the disaster on the islands of Phuket and Phi Phi in Thailand are a good illustration. The time available to these tourists to cover so short a distance inland was in fact ample to save all the lives that were lost, if the prevention reflex had been present. Even if no warning is issued, but the person feels a tremor, he or she will know how to act.
Losses would be virtually nil if the wave arrived 30 minutes after the quake. If the dead in Sumatra are compared with these expected results when the notion of the tsunami risk has been fully integrated, it is clear that training and education are priceless. For this purpose, a coordination centre able to contact the right people at any time should be established. In the USA, there is specific training for such officers Beaulieu, It covers all the procedures to adopt for warnings to be issued in the most efficient manner.
Desperately seeking new space along the coasts, these new arrivals settle regardless of the ecosystems which are in themselves buffer zones acting as very efficient brakes on tsunamis, and also on cyclones, which are events that are far more frequent in the region Dahdouh-Guebas et al , The historical study of tsunamis in the Indian Ocean explains why there was no early warning system in South-East Asia.
It has also been shown that this type of system alone could not have saved the victims in Indonesia. However, the application of well thought-out measures of territorial development integrating the tsunami risk, and the development of a certain risk culture in the populations by way of educational programmes, could have considerably reduced vulnerability. Beaulieu J. Berz G.
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And if that piece happens to be large, it can send massive waves toward shore with little to no warning. Brauner C. We have been experiencing some problems with subscriber log-ins and apologise for the inconvenience caused. The time available to these tourists to cover so short a distance inland was in fact ample to save all the lives that were lost, if the prevention reflex had been present. Until we resolve the issues, subscribers need not log in to access ST Digital articles. This should mainly target the education of children, who are very vulnerable to this risk, starting in primary school, in particular using strip cartoons ITIC, undated ; periodic evacuation exercises should also be implemented.
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