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Tsunami

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List,

I am taking the liberty to post a copy of my reply to
a private mail received from a friend and well-wisher
in USA.

Thanks.
==================

Thanks Joe for your kind concern.

A few others too have written in expressing concern
and sympathy and I thank all of them.
I am replying individually to all of them.
I am also taking the liberty to post this on the lists
that I am a member of.
This may please be treated as an exception to the
guideline I had set for myself regarding writing on
off topic subjects.
The circumstances are extraordinary and I am hoping no
one will mind. Besides, I have some hope that many in
the seaint list will not consider this off-topic.

I and my family are safe.
This is the first such calamity in recorded history in
India. 
We have heard of Tsunamis in Japan but never even
dreamed that it could happen here in India.
The Insurance companies have some additional
calculations to do for future.


Bangalore, where I live,  is located on a plateau at
an elevation of about 3000 feet above mean sea level.
We are also 225 miles away from the nearest sea coast.

We are indeed blessed.
There is no history of earthquakes in Bangalore except
for rare and mild tremors (which we hardly
notice). Most of us need to be told the next day from
newspaper reports that we had been through an
earthquake.

Wind loads in this region are the minimum in the
entire country. Structural engineers have an easy time
designing structures to resist lateral wind loads as
the basic wind pressure to be considered is only 16
psf in Bangalore.
In the seismic load map of India, we are included in
the zone with the least value of lateral seismic load
coefficients.

Typhoons/twisters/hurricanes that we hear about in USA
are unknown here.
Snow loads are unknown.

I sat glued to the TV on Sunday while heart rending
scenes were relayed from the neighboring state of
Tamilnadu where I have a host of relatives living.
None of them lived on the coast and they are all safe.

Any one within 200 yards of the coast line has been
affected.
Marina Beach, in Chennai, which is the longest beach
in India and well known has been devastated.
Marina Beach has special significance for me.
It was on this beach that I first met my wife in 1973
and I later married her in 1975.
I spent half an hour then with her, right on this
beach,  while we discussed matrimony.
If this had happened then, I wouldn't be alive to post
this today.

A temple located right on the coast line (The
Astalakshmi Temple) does not exist any more.
Elsewhere a church fell killing 40 worshipers inside.
It was around 6:30 am in the  morning and walkers or
joggers on the beach would have had just two minutes
time to avoid the waves, provided they had seen them
coming,  or else they would have to switch to swimming
to survive.
Fishermen and their families living in huts on the
beach did not have even a ghost of a chance.
They wouldn't even have seen the waves coming at them
menacingly.
No one knows what happened to the fishermen who had
set out to sea early in the morning.
They say the waves were 20 feet high and some say they
were 33 feet high.
The Government admits to about 3000 dead in India.
No one believes this figure.
45,000 are unaccounted for in the Andaman and Nicobar
Islands alone.
Thousands are reported missing all over the South
Indian coast.
3000 may merely be the number of corpses that the
Government has been able to count so far.
The full impact of this tragedy is yet to sink in and
we will know in a couple of days the true extent of
the damage to property and the number of lives lost.
At least one million people in Sri Lanka have suffered
loss of property. The figure in India will be many
times more.

Never in recorded history has an earthquake had such a
wide area of influence.
Starting with Indonesia, it has affected parts of
Malaysia, Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Indian
territory in the Indian Ocean), Phuket in Thailand,
the entire southern coast of TamilNadu, parts of the
coast line in Andhra Pradesh, the coast of Sri Lanka,
and strangely, even part of the South West coast of
Kerala, where at least a 100 people are reported dead.
The Island of Maldives in the Indian Ocean has been
devastated. Two thirds of the capital, Male, is under
water.

It was believed yesterday that Sri Lanka was the worst
hit.
I don't think so. It was the Tamilnadu coast in South
India which was most severely affected. 

We hear that the magnitude was 8.9 on the Richter
scale. 

My little nephew asked me to explain how such a thing
could happen.
How does an earthquake so far away cause waves of sea
water to come in here?

I told him to imagine the Bay of Bengal as a vast bath
tub filed to the brim. What if some one shakes this
bath tub from the bottom? Would not the water rise and
spill over?

Fortunately he did not probe further.
I wonder if this analogy is appropriate.
Fortunately he asked only "How" this happens and not
"Why" this happens.
We need to be philosophers to answer that.

This is nothing but Nature indulging in "terrorism".
When Nature is provoked, it can make Osama look
like a school boy.
Osama had his motives or reasons.
Osama can be placated though we may never do that.
What motivates Nature ?
Can it be placated?
Just musing.
Regards
Vish
(G Vishwanath
Bangalore,South India)




	
		
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