Dec 27, 2004

The Frantic Tsunami Warning That No One Ever Heard

Today in the aftermath of yesterday's catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, it would appear from the following Reuter's news article published yesterday that someone did in fact have ample time to warn people about the tsunami despite the fact that no official warning system is in place.

"In Los Angeles, the head of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said U.S. officials who detected the undersea quake tried frantically to get a warning out about the tsunami."

This presents us all with the obvious disturbing question:

Who were the US officials who tried frantically to get a warning out about the tsunami and how exactly did they do it?

It seems to me that a simple posting on the internet, perhaps a bulletin might have been a step in the right direction, however, the only warning I have been been able to find was the following which stated only that "there is a possibility of a tsunami near the epicenter". Hardly frantic if you ask me.

I have written to both Dr. Laura S.L. Kong and Mr. Charles McCreery asking the question and have yet to hear back.

UPDATE: Since posting this, the original "Tsunami Information Bulletin" has editted and/or changed and no longer has the warning that "there is a possibility of a tsunami near the epicenter". The original warning was on Tsunami Information Bulletin 01.


  1. I don't agree that a posting on the internet would be a step in the right direction. If you're working frantically to warn millions of people, the chance that a handful of them might be reading the appropriate web site isn't any consolation. It would have been a waste of the precious little time they had. (Besides, there's likely no Wi-Fi on the beaches of Sri Lanka :(

  2. How many people splashing around in the surf are carrying a radio or TV with them?

    If posting warnings on the internet are such a waste of time as you claim then why are they done now?

  3. Anonymous4:27 AM

    Here's a copy of Google's cache for the page - the live page was edited; the cached page shows the warning 3 lines from the bottom.

  4. It's too bad the people at the USGS don't post at freerepublic or fark or anywhere else like that. There are internet coffee shops and such even in the poorest regions. They could have run onto the beach and warned the people to get to higher ground. Probably aren't the most internet-savvy people though. They probably tried to phone people in the region. Is there any sort of tornado siren system that could have been used? That would have at least gotten people indoors. I have some friends in Thailand. Hope they're alright.

  5. You are correct young1sw, there is an internet cafe almost every ten feet in Phuket. They are open 24 hours and always packed with tourists.

    Any type of warning posted on the internet would have been picked up in minutes and saved many lives.

  6. So, do you think we should try to get changes in place so that this doesn't happen again (no warning being sounded), or use our funds to help the survivors? I've heard that an event like this happens only every several hundred years, so it doesn't seem like we should waste money on something that will never happen again in our lifetimes.
    I read the USGS warning and it wasn't very specific. It seems that that was the big problem. No one knew if a tsunami had actually been unleashed. Even if someone had posted something, it would have been mere speculation. People who had encountered the tsunami would be the only ones who would know for certain. They probably wouldn't have been able to communicate about the disaster. Otherwise, they would have! Have you read anything about this happening?

  7. Thanks for posting this! For Christians who want to donate to provide disaster relief... I have added some Christian mission relief links to:


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