2008/05/18

Natural Disasters

This month, we've had two terrible disasters in Asia - a cyclone that swept through Myanmar in May 2 to 3, and a huge earthquake in Sichuan, China of May 12.
Rescue efforts are still ongoing at both places and we are yet to find out the final numbers of victims and the extent of damages. The latest numbers I know at this point of writing this is: Myanmar - 78,000 dead and 56,000 missing, and in China - 29,000 dead and 200,000 injured. This is one of the worst disasters we've seen in this part of the world in the recent years.
Reports are horrifying - mothers looking for missing children and husbands, people crying for the loved ones that are crushed under crumbled buildings - just heart breaking.

I have a friend who is originally from Sichuan. I communicated with him right after learning about the earthquake. He told me that his relatives are all OK, but one of his brothers is a doctor in Chengdu - one of the badly effected areas. He must be very busy with helping victims.

Here in Japan, we get tropical storms (in this region, it is called "typhoons") and earthquakes every year.
Last year, there were 24 typhoons that developed in the south Pacific Ocean and of those, three hit Japan. Typhoon "No. 9" hit the main island in September - caused 1 person dead, two people missing, and 90 people injured. That was very scary. Luckily, Tokyo wasn't hit too bad and the storm passed overnight, but I recall the wind was horrible and the next morning, some trees fell and leaves and branches were all over the place the nearby park and also on streets.

In March of last year, magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Noto area and then again one with magnitude of 6.8 struck Niigata. Noto had one person dead with 355 injured and Niigata had 15 people dead with 2,345 people injured. These two earthquakes were on the Sea of Japan side - relatively less populated areas.
The worst one in the recent history was in January of 1995 - it struck Kobe. This one was of 7.3 magnitude and killed over 6,434 people and 43,792 injured. That was absolutely horrifying.
I lived far away from it, so didn't even feel it, but one of the guys that worked for our company was from Kobe. Fortunately, his parents were unhurt, but their house was completely demolished. His family lost most of their belongings including their precious photo albums.

I learned from the news that the Sichuan Earthquake was caused by the plate of India pushing against the Himalayas - that's like 1000s of kilometers away from the disaster area!




Also, before the Kobe earthquake, there was no significant seismic activities in Kobe area in the recorded history! They found a new fault line with the disaster.

Natural disasters can hit anywhere in the world at any time and can happen to anyone. I understand the initial problems with rescue activities at both Myanmar and China, but I hope they will be able to save as many peole as possible.

4 comments:

dbp said...

Over time I've gotten to experience most kinds of natural disaster: Mt. Saint Helens in Washington in 1980. I've felt earthquakes in WA and in Japan--but they didn't do any damage where I was. I was in Iwo Kuni for the 1991 Typhoon (I think # 19) and it did a lot of damage in the form mostly of broken windows and downed trees. It was mostly depressing since the foliage was so lush before the storm and then all brown and dying afterwards, plus some beautiful historic structures were damaged--like a pagoda in Myojima Island. The worst natural disaster in terms of personal disruption was the ice storm in Vermont (I think 1998). We had no power for a week and couldn't drive either since there were so many trees across the roads. We used our wood stove to cook and heat water for bathing and used candles for light.

datadawak said...

Yes, I remember Mt. Saint Helens. I was there, too. My poor mother thought I was dead from all the terrible pictures the media was broadcasting. Also, I remember that you were in Iwakuni and sent me a letter. Too bad we did not yet have e-mails readily available, then. The victims numbers are since almost doubled in Myanmar and China since I wrote my las blog last weekend. It is just terrible.

dbp said...

Yes, it is really awful the level of death and destruction that these natural disasters can visit.

Your recolection of your Mom's view of Mt. St Hellens, reminds me of something: When I was in Japan the news showed that there was a huge forest fire in the Hangman Valley area of Spokane. (This is the area where we had our cross country district final races.) From the news stories it looked like the whole county was on fire.

eonos said...

good!!