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Boxing Day

By | April 2013
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Tragedy stuck on Boxing Day of 2004, as the Indian Ocean earthquake reached a magnitude of 9.2, ultimately causing one of the most deadly Tsunami’s ever recorded (Cummins & Leonard 2005). This catastrophic event resulted in an estimated 230,000 people killed and 1.7million displaced. As the tsunami reached wave peaks of 30 metres, it destroyed everything in it’s path, including communities in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and as far away as the east coast of Africa (Cummins & Leonard 2005). The Boxing Day earthquake occurred in the Sunda subduction zone, where the Indo-Australian plate is sliding beneath Sumatra. The seafloor rose near the plate boundary and subsided 100–200 kilometers landward of the boundary (Synolakis & Bernard 2006). This resulted in a wave traveling to the east whose leading edge was receding, causing the sea to withdraw, while to the west the leading edge inundated the coast (Synolakis & Bernard 2006). Whilst this geographical zone is a permanent part of the Indian Ocean, there were also several human factors that conversely contributed to the outcome of the tsunami (Keys, Masterman-Smith & Cottle 2006). The Indonesians sewage, global warming and fishing ultimately destroyed the coral reefs, which during the tsunami could’ve acted as a barrier around the Surin Islands (Keys, Masterman-Smith & Cottle 2006). Similarly, sand dunes and mangroves had been bulldozed to create better views from hotels overlooking the water. Mangroves had also been cleared for their timber to facilitate the US$9 billion shrimp farming industry (Sharma 2005). Shiva (2005) has explained that ‘every acre of shrimp farming has created an ecological footprint of 100 acres in terms of destruction of mangroves and land and sea destroyed by pollution’. In those coastal areas where environmental destruction had been wrought, there was almost nothing in the tsunami’s path but the fishing villages and tourist hotels, exasperating the outcome (Keys,...

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