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December 26, 2004

Huge Earthquake Kills Thousands

Topics: International News

From USGS Earthquake Hazards Program(reference link from Drudge)

Note: Image of location map - below.

A great earthquake has occurred at 00:58:50 (UTC) on Sunday, December 26, 2004. The magnitude 9.0 event has been located OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA.   (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)

Today's shallow, thrust-type earthquake occurred off the west coast of northern Sumatra at the interface between the India and Burma plates. In this region, the Burma plate is characterized by significant strain partitioning due to oblique convergence of the India and Australia plates to the west and the Sunda and Eurasian plates to the east. Off the west coast of northern Sumatra, the India plate is moving in a northeastward direction at about 5 cm per year relative to the Burma plate. Preliminary locations of larger aftershocks following today's earthquake show that approximately 1000 km of the plate boundary slipped as a result of the earthquake. Aftershocks are distributed along much of the shallow plate boundary between northern Sumatra (approximately 3 degrees north) to near Andaman Island (at about 14 degrees north).

Click on links below to get details from each medium:

The Times of India reports -NEW DELHI: More than 3,000 people have been killed across southern India in sea surges which struck the country for the first time in history.

Xinhuanet (China) reports - HONG KONG, Dec. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Tsunamis triggered by a massive earthquake in Indonesia smashed into coastal areas of the Indian Ocean ring nations Sunday, destroying villages and flooding cities and killing more than 11,000 people.

BBC UK reports - (videos available) "A Great Surge Came Over the Beach." A Buckinghamshire family holidaying in Thailand watched from their hotel balcony as a massive wave smashed into their beach resort. Photographic images are here.... (Australia) reports -  President Chandrika Kumaratunga, returning from holiday in Britain, declared a state of national disaster as the tsunami also displaced 1million people. "President Kumaratunga has appealed to the international community for emergency assistance," her office said in a statement. At least 2200 people had been confirmed killed and 1million others or 5 per cent of the population displaced, said Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse. "It is a huge tragedy and it is unfolding all the time," a spokesman said. 

Update: (Australia) December 27, 2004... ABOUT 12,000 people are now known to have died in the earthquake and tsunami disaster across southern Asia.

(Click image to enlarge)

One toll today, compiled by the AFP news agency, put the latest total at 11,822, while another count by Reuters said the figure had reached 12,378. Officials reported deaths in seven countries in southern and southeastern Asia, AFP said. It said in Indonesia at least 4448 people were killed as the country took the full force of a huge earthquake and tidal waves that swallowed entire coastal villages. Sri Lanka was hard hit with 4300 people confirmed dead, and thousands more injured or missing, relief officials and Tamil Tiger rebels said. At least 2606 people were killed in southern India, with the chief minister of Tamil Nadu announcing 1705 deaths in her state alone and at least 300 people killed on the country's Andaman islands.

California Yankee has an update on rescue efforts.

Pharyngula has several instructive links on earthquakes in the form of a basic geoscience tutorial.

Update: Timesonline writes on Dec 28 that the toll could reach over 50,000.
The death toll across southern Asia has reached 23,700. The worst-hit country was Sri Lanka, with an estimated 12,000 deaths, followed by India with 6,600. But as many as 30,000 people were said to be missing in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

Posted by Hyscience at December 26, 2004 7:06 PM

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