On Sunday a massive 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia caused tsunamis that surged across the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, killing thousands in 10 countries from Indonesia to Somalia. As of this writing almost 24,000 people have perished from the impact of the various tsunamis. Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India were particularly hard hit by them. Large portions of the Maldives were briefly submerged. What a tragedy. This is one of the biggest quakes in recorded history and one of the most destructive. I have colleagues working in Chennai, but I don’t know yet whether they are OK. Few foreigners have been reported missing or killed–I really hope they’re safe. Disasters of this magnitude are so tragic. Earthquakes are among the most destructive natural disasters. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see a huge wall of water coming toward you. I pray for the families of the victims and for those who must deal with the aftermath.
If you’re ever abroad and need to check on travel conditions, call the State Department’s hotline at (888) 407-4747 or check their Crisis Awareness and Preparedness Web page. No one can prepare for a disaster like this, but it’s best to prepare as much as possible. I plan to check into aid and assistance options and help as much as I can from here.