Once again Asia/Oceania has been hit by a devastating tsunami, or killer tidal-wave series. This time it was Samoa and American Samoa that were afflicted (as well as other neighboring islands, such as Tonga), and it looks like no one was able to be warned in time about what was coming from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.
It’s all very bad, but at least the devastation wasn’t as widespread as at the time of the last big tsunami emergency, that one that hit India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, and Indonesia shortly after Christmas back in 2004, right? Actually, there have been a number of other tsunamis since then, and a helpful article from the French newsmagazine Le Point provides a handy list (and reveals the interesting fact – interesting to me, anyway – that the French term for this disastrous phenomenon is raz-de-marée, which they also use for “landslide” in the political sense):
- Indonesia, 17 July 2006: An undersea earthquake creates a tsunami that hits the southern coast of Java and kills 654.
- Samoa (again!), 28 September 2006: Only a “light tsunami” this time, no word of any casualties.
- Russia, Japan, and USA, 15 November 2006: An underwater earthquake among the Kuril Islands (northeast of Japan, administered by Russia) causes a tsunami that hits the northernmost major Japanese island of Hokkaido. It’s a weak one, though, although apparently at the same time strong enough to go clear across the Pacific to cause some seaside damage at Crescent City, CA (just under the Oregon border).
- Solomon Islands, 2 April 2007: Three coastal villages devastated, 52 people killed when a tsunami hits the westernmost of the Solomon Islands.
- Japan, 11 August 2009 (just last month!): A tsunami hits “the center of Japan,” so presumably the main island of Honshu, but it’s a light one and only a few people are lightly hurt.
And then there’s yesterday’s serious incident around Samoa. I suppose the lesson is that, if you live anywhere near Southeast Asia (even in Crescent City, CA), you had better stay tuned in on-line to that Pacific Tsunami Warning Center website, but still keep your surfboard handy and/or your running-shoes on your feet for when the waves turn out to move faster than the warning.