ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Coping with the Future

   Coping with the Future Even as the attention in India and the other Asian countries ravaged by the December 26 tsunami shifts to rehabilitation and reconstruction, one question still lingers. Given that the massive waves triggered by the earthquake of magnitude 9 on the Richter scale on December 26 took about two hours to hit the Tamil Nadu seaboard at 08:00 am, could this human tragedy have been at least minimised if India had tsunami warning systems in place? It is difficult to answer this question with any certainty because there are several factors involved in reliable predictions of a tsunami. In this case, however, the scientists of the US Geological Service (USGS), who have the best earthquake and tsunami detection and prediction programmes, had initially determined that the earthquake was of magnitude 8.1, which is believed not to give rise to highly destructive tsunamis. According to the National Geographic website, the determination that the Sumatra earthquake was of magnitude 9.0 was made only after the tsunami had actually struck. Hence, an early warning system, which was unable to predict the imminence of the tsunami could have done precious little to save the human beings who perished.

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