2. INFORMATION ON THE DISASTER
Occurring many times in history, a seismic sea wave, or tsunami, can bring with it much death and destruction. It is caused by an earthquake, when different plates under the sea shift, or by an eruption of an undersea volcano. These events can cause the formation of a wave that can begin as just a small ripple of a few centimeters and then grow to a height of as much as 10 meters when it approaches land. The Asian tsunami on the morning of December 26, 2004 at 7.58 a.m., was triggered by an earthquake measuring at over 9 on the Richter scale with its epicenter to the southwest of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, or 3.32 N - 95.85 E. The epicenter is approximately 580 kilometers from Phuket and around 1260 kilometers from Bangkok. Thus, the waves had an enormous distance to build before sweeping the Andaman coast. The first wave hit Phuket at 9.38 a.m., hitting 5 other Thai provinces minutes before and after. In a period of just ten minutes, the tsunami had caused extensive destruction and damage to life and property.
The pattern of the attack was similar: "The sea receded as far as 500 to 1000 meters away from the coast. Twenty minutes later, the first wave of between 2-3 meters in height struck. Fifteen minutes later, the second destructive wave from between 3-10 meters in height struck. It was like a giant wall of water stretching for hundreds of kilometers pounded the coast with devastating force. It had such power that it carried big boats tied up at piers more than 50 meters inland and leveled buildings and structures in its path. Seawater reached as far as a kilometer inland. Then, the last wave, 5 meters in height, struck, ravaging the land still further and causing extreme inundation. The wave elevation grew even higher around the beaches with gentle slope and the open sea areas".
Timing of Events at Khao Lak-Ban Nam Khem, Amphur Takua Pa, Phangnga province on Sunday, December 26, 2004
Losses in the 6 affected provinces can be categorized into three classifications:
The National Civil Defense Committee reported on January 31, 2005 that a total of 5,393 Thai and foreign nationals lost their lives, 3,066 persons are missing and 8,457 persons suffered injuries.
The updated information given by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on August 29, 2005 put the total number of Thai and foreign nationals at 5,395 dead and 2,817 missing.
Out of 6 provinces hit by the tsunami, Phangng has taken the heaviest toll of casualties : 4,225 dead, 5,597 injured, and 1,655 missing.
Among 2,436 dead foreign nationals from 37 countries, 1,699 bodies have been identified as listed below.
2. Loss and damage to property
The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported on February 1, 2005, that the following had been lost or damaged:
Total value of lost property (not including homes): 23,508 million baht (US$ 588 million)
3. Damage to the environment
A report given by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation on February 1, 2005, included:
This is the fourth largest earthquake in the world since 1900. It generated a tsunami which swept across the Indian Ocean within hours. Areas near to the epicenter in Indonesia, especially Aceh, were devastated by both the earthquake and tsunami. In addition to the Andaman coast of Thailand, the tsunami also affected Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India, Myanmar, and places as far as Somalia, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania in Africa.
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