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Seconds from disaster HD Asian tsunami

It's sunday morning on a paradise 
island in Asia, home to 40 million people   just off shore lies one of 
the largest geological faults on the planet scientists have been studying it for 
decades hoping to understand its seismic behavior Then the biggest quake for 
40 years rocks the region   next, a horror no one had foreseen 
claims over a quarter of a million lives   -It was a surprise that it was so 
devastating it caught us off guard -it went from a perfect day in paradise to this 
horrific day in a matter of seconds… The experts are bewildered by 
a series of bizarre phenomena, freak waves destroy entire communities -The mega 
tsunami of 2004 is the greatest mystery we have yet to unravel Using cutting-edge scientific 
analysis they shared new light on what really   happened and revealed that tsunamis are more 
of a threat than the world ever realized disasters don't just happen 
they're a chain of critical events   unravel the clues and count down 
those final Seconds From Disaster The indian ocean, the third largest in the world, 
on its eastern boundary lies a massive trench   formed at the edge of a vast fault 
line known as the sunder mega thrust   here two of the world's giant tectonic 
plates collide american geologist kerry c   has been studying the fault for the last 10 
years the plates are the biggest moving objects   on the planet the indian plate is diving down 
beneath the asian plate and the overriding plate   gets dragged down with it this collision 
zone is a breeding ground for earthquakes   and while the northern end of the fault has seen 
little major activity for at least 500 years   the southern end is a different story here a big 
earthquake is thought to happen about once every   two centuries the last one was in 1833 so almost 
200 years ago we're getting a little nervous that   sometime in the next minute to next 30 years 
that part of the mega thrust might break again   the mega thrust is well known to 
geologists but for most people who live   work and play around this vast body of 
water the potential dangers were unknown   in the last days of 2004 all 
that would change forever a jewel of the region is the thai island of 
koh pipi more than 150 000 tourists every year   come to experience the dramatic 
scenery and glorious beaches   25th of december 2004 the moore family from 
california are having the vacation of a lifetime hi danielle it was our first time in asia 
peepee island was like no other place i'd   ever been to before pure paradise ken's 
been videoing his wife galen and their   daughters kendra aged 8 and danielle age 
6 as they enjoy their tropical christmas   with my kids being six and eight the best 
thing about christmas was they had a big party our children were having a wonderful time good 
job and there's our hotel thailand is just one   of more than 20 countries that surround 
the indian ocean 460 kilometers away is   the politically troubled island of sumatra on 
its west coast lies the community of lochner   despite more than two decades of civil 
unrest in this northern part of the island   lochner manages to maintain an easy going 
normality its population of fifteen thousand   crammed along a narrow strip of land between 
hills and the ocean december 26th it's 7 57 a.m ebu new le hangs up the family washing while 
three of her children eat their breakfast   inside the house watching tv we live near the ocean and this 
morning there is nothing unusual   no wind clear blue sky the youngest of 
ebu's children is nine-year-old ichut   she's a bright and thoughtful girl and 
likes to help her mother with the chores itchard has a 16 year old brother and a 
17 17-year-old sister called fitri she   has been blind since birth but has become an 
expert seamstress to the delight of her mother   even though she is blind she is very 
talented at sewing and embroidery   she makes her own designs ebu has recently lost 
her husband and her children are all she has left 759 deep beneath the ocean 
the earth begins to shake the tremors continue for more than eight minutes ebu and her kids are terrified 
by the violence of the shaking   we stay in front of the house just praying 
while sitting in front of our house 8 15 a.m a vast wave hurtles 
towards the sumatra coastline 8 16 a.m the quake is over and families all over 
the region try to take stock of what has happened 28 year old street trader samsung kamal 
surveys the damage when he looks towards   the ocean what he sees baffles 
him an expanse of exposed seabed   and he senses danger i know if the sea goes 
out that far it will come back again then   in the distance samsung spots a 
terrifying wall of water approaching fast within moments lochner is swamped 
by a maelstrom of turbulent water a second wave thunders towards ibu and her family   this one is much higher and towers 
over the trees we see the water tries desperately to hold on to idiot but 
the little girl is torn from her hands on top of a nearby hill samsung watches as a third   even bigger wave approaches although he is 
35 meters up the mighty wave almost kills him the third wave went right over my head thirteen kilometers north lies bandar aceh the 
provincial capital and home to 300 000 people 8   40 am in the city center four kilometers inland an 
amateur cameraman films the aftermath of the quake he captures this footage as 
seawater rolls slowly up the street suddenly the flow accelerates within seconds 
the water is moving faster than a man can run   as chaos unfolds in sumatra the tsunami 
continues its journey eastwards on the   holiday island of kopipi the moore family prepare 
to leave their resort after a memorable visit   being that it was christmas the night before 
we were up late and we just took a leisurely   breakfast and i remember thinking oh about 
another half an hour we needed to check   out in their hotel room on the third floor 
mum galen and girls kendra and danielle are   relaxing before finishing their packing my wife 
all of a sudden said honey look grab your camera   ken sees that the pool area has been swamped at 
first i just thought it was just a little tidal   surge until i looked farther out into the bay 
and realized there was a 20-foot wave coming   at the beach oh my god look at the waves coming 
clear out people i surf so i knew this wave had   the potential to knock the hotel down look out 
get in the room get in the room we're trying to   get the kids back away from the window in case 
the wave came through the window ken knows that   they are in a dire situation i was beginning 
to lose it and my wife said no we can't do that   we've got to be strong for the kids okay 
girls while people fight for their lives in   the eastern indian ocean 2 000 kilometers to the 
west in sri lanka the squire family from england   have been spending christmas on the halcyon 
beaches of arugam bay in the east of the island   we knew it was one of the last family 
holidays that we'd probably be having   as the children were getting bigger louise 
and phil have three children 16 year old will   laura who's 18 and their eldest emma today is 
emma's 20th birthday louise and philip arranged   to meet emma at the beachfront dining area but 
first emma heads for the bathrooms to freshen up   as louise waits for her daughter she notices 
that water is seeping into the heart the floor   of the restaurant begins to flood with water 
when she looks up she sees a wide brown surge   of water heading straight for her something 
tells me this is incredibly life-threatening   louise immediately thinks of emma knowing she 
will be totally unaware of the looming threat there are just seconds in which to act seconds 
which could spell the difference between life   and death on the asian island of sri 
lanka holidaymaker louise squire   sees the terrifying sight of an approaching 
tsunami her daughter emma is unaware of the danger tons of water explode into the room within 
seconds emma is trapped and running out of time incredible currents begin to tear the resort to 
pieces and louise is swept away the next thing   i remember i'm just under a huge amount of water 
and i'm thinking this would be so easy to die in louise drags herself to safety i remember 
thinking where are my children but   knowing there was nothing i could do over the next 
two hours a series of waves swamp arrogant bay eventually the water recedes revealing a 
terrible scene i see a completely devastated area unable to find her family louise makes 
her way to the highest point on the island   her last and only hope of finding them alive but even here there is no sign 
of her children or husband   and she begins to despair i start 
planning my my own exit from the world but then she hears familiar voices phil comes 
through the garden followed by emma laura and will   and it was just unbelievable 
and we just hugged each other   it was amazing she just kept on repeating i 
thought i'd lost you i thought i'd lost you   we were all in tears we couldn't believe our 
luck how all five of us could have survived the tsunami continues on its devastating 
path finally bringing chaos to the coast   of somalia in africa 5 000 kilometers from its 
first landform even here the waves killed 289 all across the indian ocean incredible 
events have been captured on video   in thailand astonished holidaymakers 
film and exposed seabed   the water drained from the beach followed 
minutes later by a vertical wall of water three thousand kilometers to the south 
west the maldives a low-lying island chain   are all but submerged to the north in sri lanka   a shopkeeper films the plight of school 
girls trapped in what was a bus station back on ko pipi ken moore and his family face 
a shocking new reality as the flooding subsides the people in that bay were gone we'd been out 
there snorkeling and swimming the day before   and this wave just came and picked 
everyone up and just washed them away   there was people with horrific 
injuries i mean broken arms and   legs twisted and lacerations sheets 
covered people that were dead on sumatra the coastline is now unrecognizable desperately searches for her children after the water receded i 
was confused and frightened   there were so many dead bodies not only people 
from this village but people from other places too   ebu finds her blind daughter fitri then her son together they look for the little nine-year-old 
sifting through debris and corpses but it's a race against time 
with each passing minute their   chances of finding ichut alive are dwindling we look for a chute everywhere but after hours of 
fruitless searching the awful truth is inescapable   i couldn't find my little one   i haven't seen it to this day like so many youngsters each 
ut was not strong enough   to survive the water at least one third 
of the tsunami's victims are children   this is the most devastating tsunami in 
recorded history entire communities are erased   the scale of the disaster shocks the world into 
action and an international relief effort begins but for many it is too late sumatra 
alone loses around 170 000 people in   total more than 270 000 people are killed 
but the true death toll will never be known but what could have happened what kind of tsunami 
can create super high waves retreating oceans   and devastating debris flows 
and most important of all is   there anything we can learn to prevent 
such a catastrophe from happening again fully understanding this complex disaster 
requires expertise from many different disciplines   and a team of world-class specialists 
come together to investigate   for earthquake expert kerry c this 
event raises conflicting emotions   it's quite a schizophrenic experience you 
have not only your scientific exhilaration   but you also looking at something that's 
powerful enough to do a lot of damage to people   professor costas cinelakis is head of the tsunami 
research center in california an investigator for   25 years he's analyzed about 20 freak waves in 
10 different countries our work is very much   like the fbi profiling a serial killer we have to 
very very carefully look at the clues then we can   maybe point our finger and say this is where the 
killer came from and this is what he can do again   sinolakis is an expert in modelling tsunamis 
he tries to predict what would happen to   low-lying coastal communities such as his own in 
southern california if they were hit by a wave of   a certain size and he advises where to locate 
public buildings like hospitals to avoid being   swamped in an emergency the asian event perfectly 
illustrates the need for this kind of research   tsunamis they're inevitable it's just a question 
of time george plafka is a pioneer of tsunami   science and has been studying them since the 
1960s even he is stunned by the images coming   in from all around the indian ocean what was 
really surprising was the size of the tsunami   and how destructive and deadly it was for 
all the experts there are some particularly   troubling aspects of the disaster the first is 
the unprecedented size and savagery of the waves reports are coming in that in bandar 
aceh the destruction reaches as far   as four kilometers in land the second puzzle 
is the extraordinary range of the devastation   for a tsunami to cause chaos from thailand 
to africa across 6 000 kilometers of ocean   about one-seventh of the earth's circumference the 
energy required is scarcely credible what happened   was beyond any scenario we had ever seen or 
imagined ever before this is the cbs evening news as the disaster unfolds the media is in no 
doubt as to what created this giant tsunami   earthquake followed by tidal waves an earthquake 
that rocked sumatra just minutes before the killer   waves arrived the experts have to agree but 
as early seismic data comes in the size of the   tremor is confusing first reports indicate a quake 
measuring 8 on the richter scale this is strange   now to put this in perspective we see a magnitude 
eight earthquake somewhere around the world maybe   once every two years a relatively common magnitude 
eight quake is not powerful enough to produce the   devastation scene then as the monitoring 
stations revise and analyze their data   the estimate steadily increases by the 
afternoon a station in colorado puts the quake   at 8.5 if that's the size it would be the biggest 
earthquake in more than a decade by the end of the   day data from around the world confirms that the 
quake lasted an unprecedented eight minutes and   released so much energy that strictly speaking it 
is off the richter scale by that point we knew it   was the biggest earthquake in 40 years the seismic 
data throws up another surprise it seems that the   origin of the quake was 30 kilometers below the 
surface 150 kilometers off sumatra paradoxically   in the northern section of the sunder mega thrust 
the park long thought to be virtually dormant   seismologists calculate that the mega thrust 
probably ruptured along an astonishing   400 kilometers of the fault a long thin 
stretch of ocean floor seems to have risen   in a matter of seconds sinolakis is all 
too aware of what could have happened next   as the sea floor moves up it 
lifts with it a column of water   displacing billions of tons of liquid causing 
a wall of water to move away on either side to prove the scenario cinolakis feeds the 
data into the most powerful tool he has   specialized tsunami prediction software but cinolakis is perplexed by the outcome of 
the simulation the software predicts that the   biggest waves from a 400 kilometer 
rupture wouldn't even hit sri lanka   in reality one of the most devastated 
coastlines it just doesn't make sense the damage in sri lanka is a huge clue 
for the tsunami to have hit sri lanka   the earthquake fault zone has to be way longer 
sinalakis takes stock he decides to revisit   the seismic data he knows from experience that 
seismic measurements recorded during a large quake   do not always accurately reveal the 
true length of the earthquake zone   the sheer intensity of the main event can mask 
smaller movements further out along the fault   often the best way to discover the truth is to 
look at the aftershocks that follow the first   cataclysmic release of energy these smaller 
tremors are caused as the fault settles down   and can be pinpointed with greater accuracy 
as sinalakis scans the data he notices a   flurry of tectonic activity way 
to the north of the epicenter it's a decisive moment if this activity marked the 
northern limit of the rupture   it would stretch a staggering 1600 kilometers 
four times longer than had been thought   a rupture on this scale would be unprecedented 
enough even to cause the killer tsunami but the aftershock evidence is circumstantial 
sinalakis needs some real proof if this fault   has unzipped for such a huge distance somewhere 
along its length there should be evidence cinelakis knows that kerry c is 
already on the ground in indonesia   and ready to help although much of 
the fault line lies beneath the water   it breaks the surface along its length in 
the form of a chain of volcanic islands sea hires a helicopter and 
flies north along these islands   looking for signs of recent seismic upheaval as he approaches the island of similar 
he sees something that catches his eye a ghostly ribbon runs along one side of the 
island a reef that seems distinctly out of place   i realized this island has come up out of the 
water and the entire reef is now exposed and dead   sea starts to measure how far the reef has been 
lifted from the water by comparing the heights   of the uplifted coral all around the island he can 
discover the precise movement of the earth's crust   we first measured 50 centimeters of uplift 
it went further north it became a meter   further north a meter and a 
half the pattern of movement   suggests that the western side of the island 
has been raised by one and a half meters   it's incredible evidence the tilted island marks 
the beginning of the tear in the earth's crust   we knew we had nailed down the south end 
of the source of the earthquake in the   tsunami a similar survey of the other 
islands dotted along the mega thrust   could give sea the evidence he needs 
to plot the true length of the rupture but at this critical moment the 
investigation receives a body blow   see hears that political turmoil on the 
islands to the north means he can go no further if the length of the rupture remains a mystery 
investigators will never get to the truth of why   this quake shattered expectations to create 
the most notorious mega tsunami in history investigators are on the verge of 
discovering why the december tsunami   was so deadly over such a wide area kerry c has located the start 
of the earthquake rupture   but he desperately needs to 
prove how far north it stretches   we want to know more about that bulge on 
the sea floor was it a thousand kilometers   long was it 1600 kilometers long but with a 
helicopter survey ruled out how will he proceed then out of the blue one of c's assistance has 
a brainwave if the dramatic physical evidence   kerry has witnessed on one island can be 
seen from the air then why not from space   he tracks down a satellite image of 
an island prior to the earthquake   and juxtaposes it with an image taken afterwards 
comparing these images provides a breakthrough the outline of the island has altered 
as a result of being tilted in the water   he also sees that the color of the 
surrounding ocean has been subtly transformed   due to the change in water depth after the quake c realizes that it's possible to work 
out the vertical movements of the seabed   from these observations this is the first time 
satellite images have ever been used in this way   the team systematically analyze images 
of other islands along the mega thrust   and calculate the amount of movement on the seabed this audacious analysis reveals that the 
rupture is as long as suspected an incredible   1600 kilometers the biggest ever recorded a 
rupture of this length should be more than enough   to account for the destruction 
witnessed as far away as sri lanka   sinolakis returns to the wave simulation 
program and feeds in the precious new data this time the simulation delivers a tsunami that   mimics almost exactly the 
distribution of real attacks as this california-sized chunk of the earth shifts   by up to 20 meters the waves it creates 
carry the complex imprint of the seabed   as it moves up the piece of seafloor of ocean 
bottle has its own peaks and valleys and that   creates the initial surface of the wave this 
unique pattern sets in motion a sequence of   undulations that scientists call a wave train 
in the deep ocean each crest is no taller than   50 centimeters but the wave train travels at 
incredible speed up to 900 kilometers an hour as   fast as an airliner beneath the surface a deadly 
column of water passes through the full depth   of the ocean as each wave enters shallow water 
it slows down to a few tens of kilometers an hour   the back of the wave catches up with the front 
and the wave rises the tsunami takes shape   the wave train simulation correctly predicts 
where and when the real tsunami approached   all the affected coastlines proof that 
the investigation has nailed the source   of the tsunami but the scientists now face an 
even bigger challenge in explaining the bizarre   and terrifying events experienced by the victims 
as the tsunami made landfall in banda aceh   a city has been reduced to rubble for 
something like four kilometers in land   there is nothing on record to match this 
understanding it is vitally important   not only for this part of asia but also for 
low-lying coastal regions all over the world why is the wave so destructive so far inland it's 
something unfathomable as soon as cinelakis and   his team arrive in banda aceh they get straight 
to work surveying the damage wrought on the city   tsunami investigations are forensic investigations 
we try to reconstruct what has happened and we   pick up clues very much like detectives on a crime 
scene there are two key dimensions they are trying   to measure the first is the maximum height 
above sea level that the water reached known   as the run-up the second is called inundation 
the distance that the water pushes inland   the position of debris and water marks reveal 
that the run-up varied from an astonishing 10   meters above normal sea level near the beach 
to around three meters in the center of town   the inundation is as feared truly amazing the 
water swept an unprecedented four kilometers   inland huge volumes of water 
have passed through the city   but sinalakis knows that it's the speed 
of this water that does the damage one cubic meter of water weighs one tonne   so for every cubic meter of water that comes in 
and we're talking about now hundreds of thousands   of cubic meters is like having a car that's 
coming in at high speed and it's hitting you so the first step in solving this riddle is 
to figure out water speeds across the city   if sinalakis can establish the time the 
water took to travel between known locations   a simple calculation will give him the velocity 
but getting this information is not easy   the first place to look would normally 
be eyewitness accounts of the event   but sadly in this case most of the witnesses 
are dead and of those that have survived   many are too traumatized to help synalackis must 
think laterally as he surveys the ravaged streets   he sees that sand and mud have been deposited 
right across the city clogging every available   nook and cranny this is marine sediment sand 
and mud picked up offshore and carried inland   sinalakis has an idea he knows that the depth of 
this sediment is directly related to the water's   speed at that place if the tsunami comes 
in you know very very slow we expect to see   you know more sediment close to soar if it 
comes very very fast we expect to see thicker   sediment layers further inland this dirt is 
his speedometer the team carefully measure   the layers of sediment deposited in key locations 
their painstaking analysis reveals an answer that   beggars belief the water flowed at up to 
20 miles an hour across most of the city   i would have expected the wave to penetrate inland 
but i had never expected this kind of speeds   20 miles per hour three meters flow depth two 
miles inland this just didn't make sense he's   at a loss to explain how such huge volumes of 
water can be traveling so fast so far in land but then comes another vital piece of evidence 
cinelakis hears about a video which shows the   water arriving in the city center the 
pixel video is a turning point for us captured on tape the wave seems to defy physics 
as it hits these streets four kilometers inland   instead of slowing down as 
would be expected the wave   accelerates if he weren't witnessing it with 
his own eyes he'd consider this impossible sinalakis scans the video for clues rewinding 
the action he focuses on the minor flooding that   preceded the main turret the first wave was 
very very slow you could walk away from him   but then he makes an observation that will 
radically transform the science of tsunamis   this shallow layer of water is preparing the 
way for a deadly event the first wave provides   a low friction carpet for the following wave the 
second wave is moving on this very very thin layer   of the first wave so it's able to propagate 
much faster lubricated by the wet surface the   second wave is able to power through the streets 
without slowing down the second wave accelerates   and goes at the speed of 30 to 40 kilometers 
per hour it's an extraordinary shocking sight it's like being thrown in a concrete mixer 
with nails and hammers and screwdrivers this   is unfortunately how people die they had 
no sense it's a grim but valuable lesson to   survive a tsunami in a town neither out running 
the water nor hiding in a back street will help   the only escape is to get to a solid 
structure and go up as high as possible   the difference of life and death in nature in 
some cases it was a difference of a few inches but just as sinalakis starts to 
believe he's solved the mystery   he hears reports of implausibly large waves 
just 13 kilometers to the south in lochner   i start hearing things that are very 
puzzling the run-up they measure is huge   in excess of 30 meters 30 meters is three times 
more than the maximum water depth in banda aji   and he has no explanation sinolakis asks veteran 
tsunami scientist george plafka to investigate based on all of my experience the wave 
for an earthquake of that magnitude   should have been about a 12 meter high wave 
but certainly not anything near 30 meters   klafka meets with samsul kamal the local street 
trader who climbed a hill to escape the water he describes three enormous cobra-like   surfing waves each one larger than the 
last the third wave went right over my head klafka's team measure the run-up at samsul's 
hilltop refuge and discover that the water reached   an astonishing 35 meters above sea level higher 
than an eight-story building that's by far the   largest tsunami associated with any earthquake in 
history but there's more to samsung's story he's   sure that the waves arrived about 20 minutes after 
the quake began plafka is stunned he knows that   waves from the mega thrust 200 kilometers offshore 
would take at least half an hour to reach lochner   for a tsunami to arrive within 20 minutes means 
that a different mechanism must have been at work   something capable of causing massive waves to 
arrive far earlier than was believed possible   it's a huge setback this is nothing less 
than throwing us back to the drawing board   this anomaly strikes right at 
the heart of the investigation   but resolving it will rewrite 
the rules of tsunami prediction   and reveal how vulnerable hundreds of millions of 
people living near an offshore fault really are investigator george plafka has discovered that 
monstrous waves arrived on the west coast of   sumatra too early to have come from the source 
of the main tsunami and the investigation is   in crisis plafker is under pressure to solve 
this paradox and decides to go back to basics   he knows that the waves arrived about 20 minutes 
after the quake began and he knows how fast   the waves could travel through the waters 
immediately offshore so working backwards   he calculates how far away the waves must have 
started their journey it turns out that the   wave could have traveled a maximum of about 100 
kilometers george consults a detailed geological   map of the sea floor there 110 kilometers offshore 
he sees strange features that catch his attention   distinctive folds in the seabed could this be the 
answer he knows that features called splay faults   are often found near large earthquake zones they 
are where the enormous forces find a weakness in   the highly stressed crust and fractures break to 
the surface many miles from the main fault itself   splay faults can cause a long narrow section of 
the sea floor to pop up in a matter of seconds   and this can produce a distinctive short burst of 
high waves just like those that flattened lochner it's an attractive theory and when a computer 
simulation incorporates plafka's splay fault   the results are nothing short of spectacular lo 
and behold it more or less doubled the height of   the waves at luchna and it shortened the time 
course of arrival with a pop-up fault located   close to shore the simulated waves closely 
match the awesome descriptions of eyewitnesses a japanese seismic team gives the theory 
extra credibility when it detects aftershocks   in exactly the area that plaffka is identified   although it will require further research to 
prove plafka's explanation is a breakthrough but there is one final question raised by 
this catastrophe that's perhaps the most   important of all can anything be done to alert 
people to the danger of an approaching tsunami increasingly sophisticated warning 
systems are in place across the world   capable of detecting a tsunami as 
it passes through the open ocean   but even such high-tech systems 
cannot always be the perfect solution   for 60 of the victims of the asian tsunami no 
alert would have helped the coast of sumatra is   too close to the source of the waves for a warning 
to have had any effect there was no time to react but in the aftermath of the disaster the 
investigators are tantalized by the possibility   of an unmistakable natural warning sign in many 
places the ocean receded before the waves hit   and popular wisdom now says that an exposed 
seabed is the universal alert that everyone craves   but sinolakis is not happy with this simple 
rule in fact it may be a potentially lethal myth   he has long held a theory about what could be 
happening to create these strange recessions   as the fault ruptures the easternmost section 
subsides pulling a trough of water down with it   a negative wave as this approaches the shore 
it draws the water away before the first crest   arrives on this side where the seafloor subsides 
what you see first is the shoreline retreating all the waves traveling east lead with this 
trough but to the west the story is very different   on the other side where you have the seafloor 
uplifting what you see moving west is   a leading elevation wave or 
you know the class comes first   up until now this has been just a theory but 
cinelakis obtains evidence that confirms his hunch   locations to the west saw no recessions just a 
roaring wall of water slamming into the shore   it's an important finding that disturbingly 
runs counter to people's assumptions   sadly there is no single foolproof 
indicator of an imminent tsunami finally we can now reveal 
the critical chain of events   that plunged the people of the indian 
ocean into a primordial fight for survival prior to 2004 scientists identified the 
southern section of a fault line of sumatra   as a critical risk for a giant 
earthquake then on december the 26th   one minute from disaster a section of fault 
further north than expected begins to break apart   and a weakness in the crust creates a shortcut to 
the surface 8 am a narrow section of ocean floor   about a hundred kilometers long pops up by more 
than ten meters three giant waves approach shore meanwhile the tectonic plates themselves spring 
apart displacing billions of tons of water   the energy of the earthquake is 
transferred into the shifting water columns   equivalent to more than 30 000 hiroshima bombs on land initial flooding creates a low 
friction surface for later waves to   glide over creating huge water velocities 
that turn debris into deadly projectiles the human cost is incalculable almost everything that ebu new ali owned   has gone her only photograph is a 
portrait of her lost daughter ichut the unexpected location of the december quake 
means that every undersea fault must now be   considered a tsunami threat kostas sinalakis is 
painfully aware that his home on the seismically   active west coast is inherently vulnerable but his 
experience of the asian tsunami has only increased   his resolve to plan for that day whenever we see 
a tsunami on the west coast of the united states   we're going to be prepared and hopefully 
we're not going to have any human victims you

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