I really haven’t written much about last week’s massive earthquake. It’s not that I haven’t been thinking about it. Like everyone else, it has been impossible for me to look away.
On of the more interesting aspects of this story, though certainly minor in comparison to the human tragedy, is how it has unfolded.
In 2004 we are used to getting all of our news all at once. In fact, the 24/7 cable outfits often have trouble with big stories because they’re able to pretty much cover them as they happen and that’s that. After a while extended coverage becomes repetitious and boring.
This story has dribbled out. I saw the first earthquake bulletins before I went to bed, a few hours after the quake had taken place. It was originally labeled a magnitude 8.9, then upped to a 9 (not an insignificant difference as this is a logarithmic, not linear scale).
It wasn’t until the next day that we heard about the tsunami. Then a little later we heard from people and a little bit later still we saw video.
Even today there is a lot about this story that is unknown. There are islands full of people that are so isolated no one knows what’s really happened, though speculation centers on the worst. There have been dozens of additional earthquakes, aftershocks but substantial earthquakes, in that region (around Sumatra and the Adaman and Nicobar Islands).
There will be, unfortunately, more deaths reported. Where the destruction has been the greatest there will also be disease.
There is much more new information in this story to be reported.
The Guiness Book of World Records shows a flood in 1887 killed 900,000, an earthquake in 1556 killed 830,000, and a more recent earthquake killed 655,000 in 1976¹. This most recent quake and tsunami still has the potential to top the list.
¹ – Amazingly, all three of those disasters took place in China.