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The Indian Ocean Tsunami

The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster

Pradyumna P. Karan
Shanmugam P. Subbiah
Cartography by Dick Gilbreath
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    The Indian Ocean Tsunami
    Book Description:

    On December 26, 2004, a massive tsunami triggered by an underwater earthquake pummeled the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and other countries along the Indian Ocean. With casualties as far away as Africa, the aftermath was overwhelming: ships could be spotted miles inland; cars floated in the ocean; legions of the unidentified dead -- an estimated 225,000 -- were buried in mass graves; relief organizations struggled to reach rural areas and provide adequate aid for survivors.

    Shortly after this disaster, researchers from around the world traveled to the region's most devastated areas, observing and documenting the tsunami's impact. The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster offers the first analysis of the response and recovery effort. Editors Pradyumna P. Karan and S. Subbiah, employing an interdisciplinary approach, have assembled an international team of top geographers, geologists, anthropologists, and political scientists to study the environmental, economic, and political effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

    The volume includes chapters that address the tsunami's geo-environmental impact on coastal ecosystems and groundwater systems. Other chapters offer sociocultural perspectives on religious power relations in South India and suggest ways to improve government agencies' response systems for natural disasters.

    A clear and definitive analysis of the second deadliest natural disaster on record, The Indian Ocean Tsunami will be of interest to environmentalists and political scientists alike, as well as to planners and administrators of disaster-preparedness programs.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2653-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations and Tables
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: When Nature Turns Savage
    (pp. 1-32)
    Pradyumna P. Karan

    Few natural disasters have captured the world’s attention as did the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004.Tsunami,a Japanese term, refers to earthquake-generated ocean waves associated with the sudden rise or fall of the seafloor that devastate coastal areas (Cartwright and Nakamura 2008). The emotional fascination with the tsunami was propelled by the mass media and live television images of the disaster (Time Special Report,January 10, 2005;Newsweek,January 10, 2005;U.S. News & World Report,January 10, 2005). It killed over 200,000 people and damaged the livelihoods and homes of over 1 million people around the Indian Ocean,...

  6. Part 1. Environmental and Ecological Impacts

    • 1 The Tsunami Disaster on the Andaman Sea Coast of Thailand
      (pp. 35-50)
      Masatomo Umitsu

      The giant earthquake off Sumatra Island caused serious damage by tsunami along the Andaman Sea coast of southern Thailand. Narrow coastal plains are developing in a north-south direction along the Andaman Sea coast in Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, and Satun provinces (see fig. 1.1). The tsunami flow spread over most parts of the coastal lowlands. Tsunami inundation height on the plains was about 3–5 m (11.5 feet) in general, and it exceeded more than 10 m (33 feet) in some places. Many famous resort beaches are located in the region, and most of them suffered from the...

    • 2 The Geoenvironment and the Giant Tsunami Disaster in the Northern Part of Sumatra Island, Indonesia
      (pp. 51-64)
      Masatomo Umitsu

      The catastrophic tsunami accompanied by the giant earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, 2004, inundated and caused severe disaster in the coastal lowlands of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Remarkable tsunami damage occurred in the regions of the northwest and northeast coasts of Sumatra Island and the coastal area of Banda Aceh city, located in the northwestern end of Sumatra Island (fig. 2.1). The total number of victims of the tsunami in Indonesia, including missing persons, is about 170,000. Most of the victims are concentrated in the coastal regions of Banda Aceh city in the north; Aceh Besar, Aceh Jaya, and Aceh...

    • 3 Geological and Geomorphological Perspectives of the Tsunami on the Tamil Nadu Coast, India
      (pp. 65-98)
      S. R. Singarasubramanian, M. V. Mukesh, K. Manoharan, P. Seralathan and S. Srinivasalu

      The Tamil Nadu coast of India extends to a length of about 1,026 km (615.6 miles). The coastal zone—the transition between the land and the sea—is a fragile, complex, and productive ecosystem. The southern part of the coast is tectonically more stable than the northern part (Rao and Rao 1985). The width of the continental shelf varies from about 10 to 45 km (6 to 27 miles) in nondeltaic areas. During the last glaciation, as a result of the lowering of the sea level, the entire continental shelf was exposed to subaerial erosion and fluvial deposition. The rivers...

    • 4 Tsunami Inundations and Their Impact in the Kaveri River Delta, Tamil Nadu, India
      (pp. 99-112)
      S. Rani Senthamarai and J. Francis Lawrence

      The Indian Ocean Tsunami inundated large areas along the southeast coast of India. This chapter discusses the mapping of tsunami inundations and the impact of seawater intrusions on the groundwater of the area. Inundation distance, run-up level, and post-tsunami water quality of groundwater were measured and assessed. The methodology for these measurements was developed by the Department of Science and Technology, government of India, to record and document the run-up, inundation, and infiltration along the tsunami-affected areas on the Tamil Nadu coast. The methodology is schematically described in figure 4.1 using the geospatial technologies of remote sensing, global positioning system...

    • 5 Impact of the Tsunami on the Coastal Ecosystems of the Andaman Islands, India
      (pp. 113-126)
      Ramesh Ramchandran, Purvaja Ramachandran, Bojarajan Senthilkumar and Brigitte Urban

      Any event that causes a significant displacement of the seafloor also causes the displacement of an equivalent volume of water. This is the basic mechanism governing the generation of tsunamis. Although most tsunamis are produced from earthquakes, they can also be caused by volcanic activity, submarine landslides, slumps, meteor impacts, and occasionally by human activity. The primary cause of wave generation is the release of energy and associated crustal deformation resulting from the earthquake. Thus, any earthquake that produces a tsunami is known as a tsunamigenic earthquake. The magnitude of the earthquake does not dictate whether or not a tsunami...

    • 6 Environmental Damage in the Maldives from the Indian Ocean Tsunami
      (pp. 127-134)
      Koji Fujima

      The Sumatra Earthquake occurred at 05:58 on December 26, 2004 (local time in the Maldives). The Indian Ocean Tsunami generated by the Sumatra Earthquake propagated across the entire Indian Ocean and caused serious damage across a wide area.

      The Maldives lies 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from the epicenter. The tide gages were present at Hanimaadhoo in the north, Hulhule in the center (Male International Airport, in the neighborhood of Male), and Gan in the south. The Sea Level Center, University of Hawaii (2004), presents the observation results on its homepage, showing that the tsunami arrived at the Maldives at 09:20,...

    • 7 Tsunami Disasters in Seenigama Village, Sri Lanka, and Taro Town, Japan
      (pp. 135-160)
      Kenji Yamazaki and Tomoko Yamazaki

      This chapter describes the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster that occurred at Seenigama, Sri Lanka, in December 2004, and analyzes the damage done to the village. Then, in order to offer useful suggestions for developing measures to mitigate the damage from tsunamis, the case of Taro Town in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, which has been attacked by tsunamis many times, is introduced and compared with the case of Seenigama. The structure of vulnerability is also discussed as one of the key issues in analyzing a disaster and providing effective measures for mitigation.

      A research trip to Seenigama, Sri Lanka, was made in...

  7. Part 2. Socioeconomic Dimensions of Recovery, Reconstruction, and Response

    • 8 Post-tsunami Recovery in South Thailand, with Special Reference to the Tourism Industry
      (pp. 163-182)
      David Zurick

      The Indian Ocean Tsunami tragedy was unprecedented. It prompted worldwide humanitarian relief efforts on a historic scale and mobilized governments to address public and private sector challenges in natural hazard preparedness, public health, infrastructure, and economic recovery. Several years later, many affected communities across the region remain devastated by the disaster. In Thailand, however, where the tsunami was the greatest natural disaster in the country’s history, the recovery has been remarkable.

      The tsunami hit southwest Thailand along a 400 km (240 mile) stretch of coastline and offshore islands. The affected provinces include Phang Nga, Ranong, Satun, Trang, Krabi, and Phuket...

    • 9 The Role of NGOs in Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction in Cuddalore District, South India
      (pp. 183-212)
      Muthusami Kumaran and Tricia Torris

      The intent of this chapter is to illustrate the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the recovery, relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of coastal communities affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It is a case study of NGOs involved in tsunami relief in Cuddalore district, one of the worst-affected coastal areas in Tamil Nadu, South India. Section 1 of the chapter provides an overview of NGOs in India and their role in tsunami relief in general and in Cuddalore district in particular. Section 2 presents the first-person report of coauthor Tricia Torris, a trained and experienced professional, who spent two...

    • 10 Sociocultural Frame, Religious Networks, Miracles: Experiences from Tsunami Disaster Management in South India
      (pp. 213-236)
      Seiko Sugimoto, Antonysamy Sagayaraj and Yoshio Sugimoto

      Natural hazards and disasters happen all over the world, and they bring great losses to human beings and their assets. The physical sciences, especially geophysics, geology, seismology, and meteorology, have been vying with each other to develop a model to predict these sudden events correctly in terms of time, place, and magnitude and to contribute to more effective disaster management. As greater concern has arisen among administrators and policy makers to find an acceptable way to attend to the needs of affected people, scholars of area studies, policy studies, and city planning have also participated in policy making for restoration...

    • 11 Achievements and Weaknesses in Post-tsunami Reconstruction in Sri Lanka
      (pp. 237-260)
      Martin Mulligan and Judith Shaw

      Aside from Aceh in Indonesia, Sri Lanka suffered the worst impacts of the December 2004 tsunami. It took almost a year to compile accurate figures on what was lost, but the final tally made by the Sri Lankan government was that 35,322 people died, and a further 516,150 lost their homes; 65,275 homes were totally destroyed, and 38,561 were partially destroyed.¹ In the weeks and months following the tsunami, Sri Lankan civil society did a remarkable job in coming to the aid of the victims. Those who survived the waves, volunteers from Colombo, and international aid workers took quick action...

    • 12 Improving Governance Structures for Natural Disaster Response: Lessons from the Indian Ocean Tsunami
      (pp. 261-280)
      Miranda A. Schreurs

      The December 26, 2004, great Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and resulting tsunamis were among the most destructive natural disasters of recent times. The death toll from the tsunami was staggering, reaching close to a quarter of a million people, although the exact number will never be known. Beyond this, another estimated 1.7 million people were displaced.¹ The scenes of coastal devastation and shattered lives that the media broadcast around the world led to the single largest outpouring of international natural disaster assistance ever seen. It also resulted in major reevaluations of national and international disaster preparedness, governance structures, and information tools.


  8. Part 3. Geopolitical Perspective

    • 13 Transnational Geopolitical Competition and Natural Disasters: Lessons from the Indian Ocean Tsunami
      (pp. 283-300)
      Christopher Jasparro and Jonathan Taylor

      The shock and magnitude of the Indian Ocean Tsunami triggered the largest international relief operation in history (Tang 2007, 1). The massive outpouring of aid from countries, multilateral organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and individual donors produced a phenomenon that came to be described as “competitive compassion” (Bindra 2005, 181).

      In the days and weeks following the tsunami, all the major powers with geostrategic interests in Southeast Asia—China, India, Japan, and the United States—donated to the relief effort. Within two days of the tsunami strike, Japan announced a $30 million aid package, double the initial U.S. pledge. The United States...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 301-304)
  10. Index
    (pp. 305-310)