Tsunamis Explained


Tsunamis are extremely deadly and can’t be predicted, so they are rarely caught on camera and you won’t have much time to react when you spot the first wave coming in. They can wipe out an entire population of people and bring a city down to its knees. If you ever encounter one, here’s how to survive.

What is it?

A tsunami, or seismic sea wave, is a series of destructive and very dangerous waves that result from earthquakes or other types of disturbances such as volcanic eruptions, meteorite impacts, and landslides. Its waves can get up to 30 m (100 ft) tall–or as high as a 10-story building.

Where is it located?

80% of tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean, although they’re possible wherever large bodies of water exist, including lakes. Japan is one of the highest prone countries with the longest recorded history of tsunamis, with one of the worst having taken place in 2011. Japanese tsunamis have killed thousands of people over the years, the most recently Japanese tsunami being in 2011 that struck Japan with a huge mother wave.

How will it kill you?

A tsunami attacks shore in a series of high, fast-moving waves that topple structures and flatten houses. So not only can you drown by being swept out to sea, but you’re also vulnerable to being injured from buildings falling apart and floating debris knocking you out or crushing you. Those who survive the actual tsunami may then suffer from a lack of survival resources, disease, and infection.

How to survive:

Tsunamis cannot be precisely predicted, although drawbacks can serve as a brief, but major warning that dangerous waves are approaching. A drawback is when the sea suddenly recedes, leaving bare sand and causing a rapid fall in coastal waters. As soon as you see this, abandon everything immediately and move as fast as possible inland or to higher ground. If it’s too late and you’re caught up in the water, react quickly by grabbing onto something the floats. You won’t have much control since the strong waves will carry you away at their own will, but do what you can stay afloat until the chaos subsides.

Which film took place in Thailand during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami?

The Impossible–featuring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the film–took place in Khao Lak, Thailand, which was the hardest hit coastal area of Thailand during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

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