Ed Driscoll

Christmas Day Earthquake

Glenn Reynolds has lots of links, and notes that a tsunami warning system could have saved many. Meanwhile, John Derbyshire puts the tremendous deathtoll into perspective:

In Sri Lanka alone, 3,000 people are known dead — a 9/11-size death toll, in a nation with one tenth our population.

Yesterday’s earthquake was an enormous 8.9 on the Richter Scale. Strangely enough, central California had a 6.5-scale quake last year around this time.

Update: The Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required to view) lists some of the staggering details of yesterday’s quake:

The quake struck in the Indian Ocean off the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and measured 8.9 in magnitude, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The tsunamis, created by the force of the quake, soared as high as 30 feet in some places and radiated out across the Indian Ocean before crashing ashore in at least eight countries.

Late Sunday, the unofficial death toll exceeded 10,000, according to the Associated Press. The countries hit worst were Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand. Deaths and missing persons were also reported in Malaysia, Bangladesh, the island nation of Maldives and Somalia.

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The quake was the biggest recorded since a 9.2 magnitude earthquake hit Alaska in 1964 and the fifth biggest since 1900, according to U.S. Geological Survey officials. Seismologists said it was caused when tectonic plates shifted and tore along a 1,000 kilometer stretch of the seabed.

Towering waves cut a wide swath of death across the region. Hundreds of bodies were found on beaches along India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, and more were expected to be washed in by the sea, the AP reported officials as saying. In Indonesia, which suffered at least 4,000 deaths in the sparsely populated region of Aceh, bodies washed inland by the ocean were left wedged in trees.

Update: The quake is now listed at 9.0 in magnitude by the US National Earthquake Information Center.