The south Asian tsunami of 2004:
A magnitude 9.15 undersea earthquake occurred just north of Simeulue island, off of Indonesia's Sumatra Island on the morning of 2004-DEC-26. It was at a depth of 30 km (19 miles), extended over about 1,200 km (over 700 miles), and caused a sudden rise in the adjacent seabed by several meters. The total energy released was equivalent to about five hundred megatons of TNT. This was more than 200 times the total explosives used during World War II -- including the two nuclear bombs. It caused the crust of the entire Earth to vibrate by at least a few centimeters. It triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska. Reverberations could still be detected by sensitive instruments a week later. It altered the earth's rotational speed, shortening each day by about 3 microseconds.
There have been only two other earthquakes of greater magnitude since the year 1900. In all three cases, the rise in the seabed displaced sufficient water to generate a massive tsunami (a.k.a. teletsunami, ocean surge, tidal wave). The south Asian tsunami was "one of the deadliest disasters in modern history." 2 As of late 2005-MAR, as many as 280,000 persons are believed to have died -- half of them in Indonesia. The dead are mainly comprised of local citizens who are followers of the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim faiths, and about 9,000 vacationing foreigners who were primarily Christians, Jews and secularists. Over a million were left homeless. Massive devastation was caused to costal areas from Indonesia to South Africa, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South India, Thailand, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar.
According to the Wikipedia encyclopedia:
The suffering could have been worse. The magnitude of the disaster promoted a widespread response from people around the world.
The Katrina hurricane of 2005, affecting New Orleans, and surrounding area:
The English word "hurricane" comes from Hurukan, the West Indian God of storms. The name "Katrina" means blessed, pure, and holy.
On 2005-AUG-25, Katrina, as a Category 1 hurricane, struck south Florida. Its classification was raised to Category 4 as it passed over the Gulf of Mexico. It hit New Orleans on August 29. 4 Since most of the land in New Orleans is below sea level, the city is protected by a levee. Unfortunately, it was designed to be capable of only withstanding only about a Category 3 hurricane. The levee was breeched in three places, leaving nearly 80% of the city under water. Other Gulf Coast cities, including Gulfport, MS; Biloxi, MS; and Mobile, AL were severely damaged. Katrina was reclassified as a tropical storm as it passed over central Mississippi. 5 By the time it reached Lake Ontario, it had become only a heavy rain, dumping about two inches of precipitation.
As of SEP-04, the total death toll is unknown; it will probably exceed 1,000. Hundreds of thousands have been dislocated; a quarter million into Texas alone. "The evacuees [from New Orleans], most of them black and poor, spoke of violence, anarchy and family members who died for lack of food, water and medical care." 6 Many have no homes, assets, or jobs to which to return. Property damage is immense.
Within a week, the finger pointing began. Many media commentators place much of the blame on the Federal government's lack of planning for such a event, and their sluggishness in responding to the disaster. According to the Washington Post: "Bush administration officials blamed state and local authorities for what leaders at all levels have called a failure of the country's emergency management." 6
Why do major disasters happen?
People ask why massive disasters happen. The question goes to the very heart of various religions' concepts of God and of the workings of the universe:
How people handle the news of the disaster:
People of various faiths interpret the events differently:
A Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or non-theistic parent does not grieve less than a Christian parent on the death of their child. Theists can perhaps take solace in the belief that God cares for the victims and morns with the survivors. Non-theists can perhaps adjust to the tragedy by realizing that it was not caused by a vengeful God; rather it was the result of blind processes.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious