On December 26, 2014 survivors of Indian Ocean Tsunami marked 10th anniversary of the disaster.
Survivors of Asia's 2004 tsunami and relatives of its 226,000 victims cried and prayed as they gathered along Indian Ocean shorelines on Friday for memorials to mark the 10th anniversary of a disaster that still leaves an indelible mark on the region.
When a 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean on Dec. 26 a decade ago, it triggered a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) which crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries, wiping some communities off the map in seconds.
Memorials were held in the worst-affected countries - India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia - where monks, imams and priests held ceremonies to honor those who perished.
The disaster raised awareness of tsunamis and prompted nations to pump money into research and warning systems.
Since 2004, geologists have uncovered evidence of several massive tsunamis in buried sand layers preserved in Sumatran caves. It turns out that the deadly waves aren't as rare in the Indian Ocean as once thought. "We had five fatal tsunamis off the coast of Sumatra prior to 2004," said Paula Dunbar, a scientist at NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center. Over the past 300 years, 69 tsunamis were seen in the Indian Ocean, she said.
Despite the risk, there was no oceanwide tsunami warning system in the region. Now, a $450 million early-alert network is fully operational, though it is plagued with equipment problems. (Even the global monitoring network loses 10 percent of its buoys each year, according to NOAA.) Essentially built from scratch, the $450 million Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOWTS) includes more than 140 seismometers, about 100 sea-level gauges and several buoys that detect tsunamis. More buoys were installed, but they have been vandalized or accidentally destroyed. The buoys and gauges help detect whether an earthquake triggered a tsunami.
The global network of Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami (DART) buoys, which detects passing tsunami waves, has also expanded, from six buoys in 2004 to 60 buoys in 2014.
Regional tsunami alert centers have been built in Australia, India and Indonesia. Scientists at the centers decide whether a tsunami is likely based on information from the network of sensors, estimate the probable size, then alert governments to get the warning out through sirens, TV, radio and text alerts.
Source: Reuters, LiveScience