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The Indian Ocean Tsunami

The Global Response to a Natural Disaster

Pradyumna Karan

Publication Year: 2011

On December 26, 2004, a massive tsunami triggered by an underwater earthquake pummeled the coasts of Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and other countries along the Indian Ocean. With casualties as far away as Africa, the aftermath was overwhelming: ships could be spotted miles inland; cars floated in the ocean; legions of the unidentified dead—an estimated 225,000—were buried in mass graves; relief organizations struggled to reach rural areas and provide adequate aid for survivors. Shortly after this disaster, researchers from around the world traveled to the region’s most devastated areas, observing and documenting the tsunami’s impact. The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster offers the first analysis of the response and recovery effort. Editors Pradyumna P. Karan and S. Subbiah, employing an interdisciplinary approach, have assembled an international team of top geographers, geologists, anthropologists, and political scientists to study the environmental, economic, and political effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The volume includes chapters that address the tsunami’s geo-environmental impact on coastal ecosystems and groundwater systems. Other chapters offer sociocultural perspectives on religious power relations in South India and suggest ways to improve government agencies’ response systems for natural disasters. A clear and definitive analysis of the second deadliest natural disaster on record, The Indian Ocean Tsunami will be of interest to environmentalists and political scientists alike, as well as to planners and administrators of disaster-preparedness programs.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

Illustrations and Tables

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

Shortly after the December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, a group of geographers, geologists, anthropologists, and political scientists from Japan, India, the United States, Australia, and Germany traveled to some of the most severely affected areas in Thailand, Indonesia, the Andaman Islands, and the east coast of India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives to observe and document the tsunami’s ...

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Introduction: When Nature Turns Savage

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pp. 1-32

Few natural disasters have captured the world’s attention as did the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 2004. Tsunami, a Japanese term, refers to earthquake-generated ocean waves associated with the sudden rise or fall of the seafloor that devastate coastal areas (Cartwright and Nakamura 2008). The emotional fascination with the tsunami was propelled by the mass media and live television...

Part 1: Environmental and Ecological Impacts

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1: The Tsunami Disaster on the Andaman Sea Coast of Thailand

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pp. 35-50

The giant earthquake off Sumatra Island caused serious damage by tsunami along the Andaman Sea coast of southern Thailand. Narrow coastal plains are developing in a north-south direction along the Andaman Sea coast in Ranong, Phang Nga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, and Satun provinces (see fig. 1.1). The tsunami flow spread over most parts of the coastal lowlands. Tsunami ...

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2: The Geoenvironment and the Giant Tsunami Disaster in the Northern Part of Sumatra Island, Indonesia

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pp. 51-64

The catastrophic tsunami accompanied by the giant earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, 2004, inundated and caused severe disaster in the coastal lowlands of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Remarkable tsunami damage occurred in the regions of the northwest and northeast coasts of Sumatra Island and the coastal area of Banda Aceh city, located in the northwestern end of Sumatra Island ...

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3: Geological and Geomorphological Perspectives of the Tsunami on the Tamil Nadu Coast, India

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pp. 65-98

The Tamil Nadu coast of India extends to a length of about 1,026 km (615.6 miles). The coastal zone—the transition between the land and the sea—is a fragile, complex, and productive ecosystem. The southern part of the coast is tectonically more stable than the northern part (Rao and Rao 1985). The width of the continental shelf varies from about 10 to 45 km ...

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4: Tsunami Inundations and Their Impact in the Kaveri River Delta, Tamil Nadu, India

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pp. 99-112

The Indian Ocean Tsunami inundated large areas along the southeast coast of India. This chapter discusses the mapping of tsunami inundations and the impact of seawater intrusions on the groundwater of the area. Inundation distance, run-up level, and post-tsunami water quality of groundwater were measured and assessed. The methodology for these measurements was developed...

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5: Impact of the Tsunami on the Coastal Ecosystems of the Andaman Islands, India

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pp. 113-126

Any event that causes a significant displacement of the seafloor also causes the displacement of an equivalent volume of water. This is the basic mechanism governing the generation of tsunamis. Although most tsunamis are produced from earthquakes, they can also be caused by volcanic activity, submarine landslides, slumps, meteor impacts, and occasionally by human activity. The ...

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6: Environmental Damage in the Maldives from the Indian Ocean Tsunami

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pp. 127-134

The Sumatra Earthquake occurred at 05:58 on December 26, 2004 (local time in the Maldives). The Indian Ocean Tsunami generated by the Sumatra Earthquake propagated across the entire Indian Ocean and caused serious damage across a wide area. The Maldives lies 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from the epicenter. The tide gages were present at Hanimaadhoo in the north, Hulhule in the center (Male ...

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7: Tsunami Disasters in Seenigama Village, Sri Lanka, and Taro Town, Japan

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pp. 135-160

This chapter describes the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster that occurred at Seenigama, Sri Lanka, in December 2004, and analyzes the damage done to the village. Then, in order to offer useful suggestions for developing measures to mitigate the damage from tsunamis, the case of Taro Town in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, which has been attacked by tsunamis many times, is introduced ...

Part 2: Socioeconomic Dimensions of Recovery, Reconstruction, and Response

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8: Post-tsunami Recovery in South Thailand, with Special Reference to the Tourism Industry

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pp. 163-182

The Indian Ocean Tsunami tragedy was unprecedented. It prompted worldwide humanitarian relief efforts on a historic scale and mobilized governments to address public and private sector challenges in natural hazard preparedness, public health, infrastructure, and economic recovery. Several years later, many affected communities across the region remain devastated by the disaster. In ...

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9: The Role of NGOs in Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction in Cuddalore District, South India

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pp. 183-212

The intent of this chapter is to illustrate the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the recovery, relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of coastal communities affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. It is a case study of NGOs involved in tsunami relief in Cuddalore district, one of the worst-affected coastal areas in Tamil Nadu, South India. Section 1 of the chapter ...

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10: Sociocultural Frame, Religious Networks, Miracles

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pp. 213-236

Natural hazards and disasters happen all over the world, and they bring great losses to human beings and their assets. The physical sciences, especially geophysics, geology, seismology, and meteorology, have been vying with each other to develop a model to predict these sudden events correctly in terms of time, place, and magnitude and to contribute to more effective disaster manage-...

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11: Achievements and Weaknesses in Post-tsunami Reconstruction in Sri Lanka

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pp. 237-260

Aside from Aceh in Indonesia, Sri Lanka suffered the worst impacts of the December 2004 tsunami. It took almost a year to compile accurate figures on what was lost, but the final tally made by the Sri Lankan government was that 35,322 people died, and a further 516,150 lost their homes; 65,275 homes were totally destroyed, and 38,561 were partially destroyed.1 In the weeks and ...

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12: Improving Governance Structures for Natural Disaster Response

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pp. 261-280

The December 26, 2004, great Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake and resulting tsunamis were among the most destructive natural disasters of recent times. The death toll from the tsunami was staggering, reaching close to a quarter of a million people, although the exact number will never be known. Beyond this, another estimated 1.7 million people were displaced.1 The scenes of coastal ...

Part 3: Geopolitical Perspective

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13: Transnational Geopolitical Competition and Natural Disasters

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pp. 283-300

The shock and magnitude of the Indian Ocean Tsunami triggered the largest international relief operation in history (Tang 2007, 1). The massive out-pouring of aid from countries, multilateral organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and individual donors produced a phenomenon that came to be described as “competitive compassion” (Bindra 2005, 181)....


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pp. 301-304


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pp. 305-310

E-ISBN-13: 9780813126531
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813126524

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Emergency management -- Asia.
  • Indian Ocean Tsunami, 2004.
  • Humanitarian assistance -- Asia.
  • Tsunami damage -- Asia.
  • Tsunami relief -- Asia.
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