12 March 2011

Tsunami

Bad weather in the Pacific
As we watch the  compelling and fascinating videos and pictures of the horrendous disaster striking Japan from the comfort of our armchairs, we can consider ourselves lucky that we are not involved. Yet again I witness how people who have no concept of this power place themselves in danger. The last time such an event happened  in 2004, many sightseers in India were swept into the ocean. Even the TV videos have an awesome fascination and one can hardly understand why one cannot out run the apparent slow moving mass of water. 

It is different in a storm. The wind noise alone is frightening and that is just the problem here, there is no howling wind. When a tsunami strikes there need not be high winds and rain. It was a bright sunny day when it struck the Indian Ocean in 2004 and now again in Japan.

I have been alone in a small boat in a storm at sea, the one that broke the Prestige oil tanker in November 2002 in the bay of Biscay. The noise alone is frightening. There is a build up to a storm, but a tsunami can strike miles away from the epicentre of the earthquake and so can arrive without warning on a bright sunny day. I am sure that when it arrives there is noise aplenty from the rushing water and the breaking up of houses and structures it just sweeps away. And when it has gone, in the wake of the devastation it leaves behind, there must be an awful silence.