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Why Did So Many People Die in the Asian Tsunami?

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The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea mega thrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Boxing Day, December 26th. The epicentre was in the Indian Ocean near to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Tsunamis are caused by an undersea earthquake. Earthquakes happen when the tectonic plates suddenly move into one another. The waves can travel at speeds up to 600 miles per hour in the open sea - fast enough to keep up with a jetliner. They can reach heights of up to 100 feet in shallow coastal waters. The waves can continue to pound the coastline for several hours with many hours between each wave.

A subduction zone is where two of the Earth's tectonic plates beneath the coast, their convergence cause the ocean plate to plunge underneath the continental one. Pressure builds up and the movement usually place usually takes place as a sudden and violent surge downwards. An estimated 1,600 km (994 mi) of fault line slipped about 15 m (50 ft) along the subduction zone where the India Plate moved towards and underneath the overriding Eurasian Plate and forced it up by 30 feet.. The slip did not happen instantly but took place in two phases over a period of several minutes. This caused a huge amount of water to rise and the waves of the tsunami began to move outwards. The earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale, the world's largest earthquake in 40 years. The earth wobbled on its' axis due to the immense power of the earthquake.

In deep water, the tsunami moved at great speed. When it reached shallow water near coastal areas, the tsunami slowed but increased in height The waves spread outwards and hit the island of Sumatra after just 15 minutes then moved on to the Andaman Islands after 30 minutes. The next place to be hit was Thailand 1 and half hours, then Sri Lanka 2 hours, the Maldives 3 and a half hour. It then reached the coasts of Somalia and Kenya 7 hours later.

The waves killed thousands of people instantly because there were millions of people living in villages and towns on the coasts of the countries and island affected. Most people died in Sumatra because it was the closest to the epicentre ao the waves were at biggest here and most powerful. Another reason was Thailand and Sri Lanka as got many sea resorts, the hotels at the time were full of tourist on their Christmas holiday. The coastal areas were flat and low lying so the water was able to move a long way inland. Many people were thrown onto trees by the powerful waves some drowned or faulty injured as the waves surged inland.

Many people died in the days after the tsunami because many clinics and hospital were destroyed therefore the injured patients were left untreated. Doctors and nurses who might have been able to help the injured had also been killed or had gone missing in the waves. Another problem was the drinking water had been contaminated by the dead bodies in the water. Therefore the survivors who drank



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