The Tsunami That Struck Japan

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What is tsunami?

The word tsunami is a combination of two Japanese words, tsu (harbor) and nami(wave.) In Western countries, tsunami is more popularly known as tidal wave. But, ironically, a tsunami has no relations whatsoever with tides regularly occurring in a body of water, such as the sea. We have what we call low tide and high tide. Tsunami is just a very high tide caused by a series of waves. Referring to tsunami as tidal wave is quite confusing. This word should be abolished and replaced by a more appropriate word.

Causes of tsunami

Earthquake is not the sole cause of tsunami. Volcanic eruptions and landslides also are the potential generator of tsunami. Any impulsive displacement at sea level will generate tsunami. Compared to a wave caused by wind which does not last long as it breaks and loses power offshore, tsunami could be referred to as a flooding wave. It does not lose its energy. The tsunami that struck Japan is about 23 feet high, sweeping away everything, even buildings or structures, in its path. 

Can tsunami be controlled?

Tsunami cannot be controlled absolutely, but its effect can be. By evacuating to high points, one could escape from the rampage. But because tsunami happens abruptly, people living in low-lying areas who are caught by the surprise attack, suffer most. That’s why, if earthquake strikes, people in those areas should expect that a tsunami is not a far-fetched possibility.

The recent tsunami that hit Japan

Japanis an earthquake-prone country because of its location. It rests upon four tectonic plates. There had been numerous earthquakes that struck Japan causing damages to lives and properties. The recent tsunami that happened just two days ago was caused by an 8.9 magnitude quake, the strongest earthquake ever happened in the history of Japan. The catastrophe claimed about 10,000 lives and countless property damages. Experts believe that the death could go higher. One of the most feared aftermath is the radiation leak because of the damaged nuclear reactors. The aggravating factors on the rising of the death toll are the absence of food, electricity and drinking water. About 1.4 million households are waterless and about 2.5 million more are without electricity.

Japan needs help

Although Japan is a wealthy industrialized nation, the impact of the damage brought by tsunami on its economy has been very gigantic in magnitude. Rehabilitation may take some time. At this moment, the U.S. already sent USS President Ronald Reagan to render much-needed assistance, delivering food to Miyagi residents. Singapore also has sent its five-dog teams to help in the rescue operations. About a dozen countries also offered their assistance. Let us join hands to offer any kind of help. I know when calamities like this happen, people around the world stand united to aid an affected nation. Let’s offer our prayers that Japan could recover very soon.


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