SCHOOL TIMES : Struck by waves of tsunami

Nature is a part of our life. Nature gives us all things, but that same nature can also bring about disasters. One of the greatest disasters was the devastating tsunami waves that struck the shore on December 26, 2004.

At the same time it raised a number of questions.

What is tsunami after all? How are tsunami waves different from tidal waves? How frequently have they occurred in different parts of the world? Can the tsunami be predicted? Are there any ways to be protected from such a calamity?

Tsunami is a Japanese word meaning waves that happen after an undersea disturbance. The disturbances may either be an earthquake or volcanic eruptions. In both cases, tsunami may happen.

Tsunami waves travel in all directions from the area of disturbance. They may travel in open sea at 450 miles per hour, which is above 700 kms per hour. As the big waves approach shallow waters along the coast, they grow to a great height and smash into the shores. Not all earthquakes generate tsunami.

As they enter the water near the coasts, their velocities decrease and height increases. It is this shallow waters that become a threat to life and property for they can crest to a height of more than 30-50 metres and strike with devastating force.

Tsunami waves come like a blow of wind and devastate lives and physical property. Tsunamis are infrequent, especially in the Indian Ocean. The tsunami that came in the Indian Ocean in 2004 originated in Sumatra Ocean. It hit Myanmar, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Somalia. India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia were the most affected.

We were flooded with traumatic stories of death and miraculous survival by news channels. Many people who had gone to beautiful places to celebrate the upcoming New Year 2005 were strangled by this disaster. The death toll increased by the day. Nobody had thought that New Year would bring tears.

The tsunami was a challenge by nature and overcoming it was our answer. We will not be able to forget that December tsunami. Nature may give us more challenges but we should be ready for anything as challenges come unannounced.

— Sumit Sharma,

Class IX, GEMS