Tsunami is a series of ocean waves typically caused by large undersea earthquakes or volcano eruptions at tectonic plate boundaries. These surges of water may reach 100 feet and cause widespread destruction when they crash ashore. They race across the sea at a speed up to 500 miles per hour and cross the entire Pacific Ocean in less than one day. Their long wavelength means that they lose very little energy along the way.
Tsunami of 2004, caused by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, is the most devastating tsunami in modern times, affecting 18 countries in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa, killing more than 250,000 people in a single day, and leaving more than 1.7 million homeless. However, less reported, albeit real, is its impact in the islands of the Indian Ocean more than 1,000 miles away from its epicenter.
Impact of Tsunami in the Islands of the Indian Ocean
These eleven countries bordering the Indian Ocean are Mauritius, Madagascar, Reunion Island, and Seychelles, Comoros islands and by geographical extension include countries in southern borders of Africa such as Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa.
These individual countries suffered humanitarian loss with more than 3,000 people killed and left more than 10,000 homeless about 1,000 miles away from epicenter. In terms of economic toll, several million dollars were reported accompanied by environmental threat due to flooding.
Large waves completely submerged one village in north of the island. Although there was no death published, a significant economic loss in millions of dollars was reported.
Waves up to 10 meters were seen in southeastern region of the island. There was one death and more than 1,000 people homeless. Furthermore, there were considerable economic damages inflicted in touristic and fishing industries and infrastructure disruptions due to flooding and beach erosion .
(iii) Reunion Island
It suffered mostly economic damages over one million dollars involving fishing industries with more than 200 boats sunk. No deaths were reported.
Ten people were reported killed, and flooding destroyed a major bridge between the capital Port Victoria and main airport. Also, the island reported devastating economic loss in millions of dollars due to hotels, housing, public utilities, and fishing damages.
More than 300 deaths were reported and 5,000 displaced.
Tsunami killed ten people with unknown number missing along with significant economic damages.
Two deaths and two injured people were reported.
(viii) South Africa
8 people were killed about 8,000 km away from the epicenter.
122,232 deaths and 113,937 missing.
(x) Sri Lanka
30,974 killed and 4,698 missing.
5,395 killed and 2,993 missing.
82 deaths and 26 missing.
68 deaths reported.
To prevent the devastating effects of future tsunami, these islands of Indian Ocean have set their priorities in achieving 3 goals
(i)development of disaster tsunami program which include implementation of tsunami program at national level, regional, and international levels and coordination of all these programs.
(ii)development of an Indian Ocean early warning system.
(iii) development of tsunami research program.
Tsunami is an ever-present and real threat for the these islands of the Indian Ocean due to the presence of a tectonic interactive plate.Their disaster management priority is the development of an early tsunami warning system in order to effectively and timely communicate with all the people in that region.
Disaster management should involve national, regional, and international organizations at all levels in order to develop tsunami program, fund tsunami projects, and continue research program.