December 30, 2004

Spotlight On…   Tsunami

image source: NPR®

The world’s most powerful earthquake in more than 40 years erupted underwater off of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Dec. 26. It sent walls of water barreling thousands of miles, killing at least 114,000 people in almost a dozen countries. (Sources: New York Times reporters; The Associated Press; LandScan population database).

The largest humanitarian relief effort in recent history is now underway. Learn more about the disaster and find out how can you help with these resources.


Stay on top of the latest news from Asia with The New York Times (free registration required). In addition to news stories, you’ll find photographs, statistics, and a detailed interactive multimedia presentation that charts the path of destruction.

BBC News has also been exhaustively covering the story. On their website, you’ll find news stories, satellite images of the tsunami, special reports from correspondents in Asia, eyewitness accounts, and information about the individual countries affected.

A series of special reports that explore how Asia is grappling with the destruction is available on the National Public Radio (NPR) website.

Stories culled from thousands of news sources worldwide are available on Google.

Reuters AlertNet, a humanitarian news network designed to keep relief professionals and the public up-to-date on humanitarian crises, has extensive information about tsunami relief efforts in Southeast Asia.

About the earthquake and tsunamis

The U.S. Geological Survey (National Earthquake Information Center) offers a preliminary earthquake report and data. General information on how local tsunamis are generated by earthquakes as well as animations, virtual reality models of tsunamis, and summaries of past research studies are also available from the U.S.G.S.

A report and several detailed maps of the earthquake are available through the British Geological Survey.

You’ll find the answers to frequently asked questions about tsunamis at the International Tsunami Information Center.

A collection of links to resources about major earthquakes from 1995–2004 is available through Poynteronline.

Savage Earth (a television series produced by PBS) explains how tsunamis develop, steps countries have taken to protect themselves from tsunamis, and offers a simulation of a tsunami.

Where to Give

A wide range of aid agencies are collecting donations to help the victims of the deadly tsunami. Lists of those organizations are available on Google and NPR.

During times like this, it’s wise to be cautious—refer to the Better Business Bureau for tips on avoiding questionable solicitations for assistance.