Three months after the devastating Asian Tsunami killed hundreds of thousands another tragedy has hit the region.
This time an earthquake hit just off the coast of Sumatra near the island of Nias( details from various TV reports) The quake was initially measured at 8.2 but that was soon reappraised up to 8.7 making it one of the ten biggest in the world since 1900.
This time no tsunami resulted although tsunami alerts were given in nearby countries resulting in panic, but at least the warning system worked.
However, there was a lot of structural dmage and intially a death toll of 300 was announced on the island of Nias although the Indonesian vice-president said that this could rise to 2000.
Tremors were also reported from the southern Thai city of Haad Yai where people ran from buildings and tremors were felt in Bangkok, which is many hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter.
Similar stories were heard from Malaysia. So far there have been no reports of death from either Thailand or Malaysia.
As word spread to India and Sri Lanka it seems many fled from beaches too.
This quake was not an aftershock from December but a new quake and it will have hundreds of afterquakes of its own of up to a magnitude of 6ish.
The tragedy of two huge quakes in the space of three months is indescribable especially for the hardest hit Indonesian provinces.
Update [2005-3-29 1:19:41 by observer393]:
Here in Thailand the authorities are assuring people that there were no deaths and no damage. Although the damage to the already shaken Western coast tourist industry will probably be catastrophic.
It is all quite a shock that this had to happen at a time so close to the original disaster and also at a time when the hope of speedy help from aid has begun to dispel as the reality of aid disbursement hits home.
Ironically todays Bangkok Post had an article on how a group of vendors were losing hope after surviving the December tsunami only to run into problems with bank regulations related to loans, and Thailand is light years ahead of Indonesia in terms of reconstruction and aid disbursement.
It seems some of my wifes family are actually on Sumatra now, so until we can contact them enough.
Update [2005-3-29 22:55:33 by observer393]:The wifes family alert turned out to be a false alarm luckily. People are however understandably panicky or edgey around the region. There have been rumors circulating of a possible third huge earthquake in the coming months. Whether there is any basis to this I dont know.
The death toll in Indonesia is now up to 1000. No doubt it will continue to climb inexorably. I cannot imagine how bad it must be for the people in Aceh province.
Here in Thailand it seems there is relief that no tsunami ensued. It seems an early tsunami warning system worked to some degree. Efforts to trumpet this by the government will probably do little to reassure locals and tourists to go to the Western coast. As the Thai New Year approaches resorts aroung the Gulf of Thailand will fill. Those on the western coast will remain deserted leaving the survivors of the December Tsunami, who rely on so much on the tourist industry for work, to a very miserable and poor New Year.