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This item originally appeared in the January 13, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

More than 150,000 lives were lost Dec. 26, 2004 after a tsunami struck the coastlands of the Indian Ocean, and millions more were left homeless, hungry and injured.

People in 11 different countries have been affected by this catastrophic disaster, and organizations on campus are raising money to help the survivors of these countries.

"We just want to help those who are suffering in these countries," Pratyush Kunar, a member of the association of Indian students and a graduate student of computer science, said.

Tsunamis are caused by the movement of a fault, a fracture in the Earth's crust. When the fault movement occurs, it produces earthquakes.

If the quake disturbs the sea floor, it results in a change in water level at the surface of the ocean.

According to Harold Thurman and Alan Trujillo, authors of the book "Essentials of Oceanography," every two to three years, a tsunami occurs in the world, and every 15 to 20 years, a large and extremely damaging one happens.

In the words of a professor

Dr. Gary Zumwalt, an associate professor of geosciences, said he thinks people should be aware of how and why tsunamis form.

"In the simplest sense, a tsunami causes high energy waves formed by the earth's movement," Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt said the tsunami traveled too fast for people to out-run the enormous wave.

"[The disaster] is not quite that simple," Zumwalt said. "Not even the public can imagine the effects."

Although the amount of lives lost is still growing, a small number of animals were found dead.

"I spoke with the biology department about this and they said it was because the animals could sense something was about to happen," Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt said tsunamis do not happen in only one part of the world.

"Soon there will be tsunamis happening in the Atlantic," he said.

Zumwalt said in Oregon the residents have tsunami alert stations. Oregon also has tsunami evacuation routes for people who are in danger.

"In Oregon they park the buses at the grade school because they must have enough buses to transport the students to a safer area," Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt also explained the United States would be a safer place because of all the mountains.

However, Louisiana would be a good target and could suffer a massive amount of damage since the land is low.

"Japan is used to tsunamis so they have a levee so high that you can't see the ocean," Zumwalt said. "The levees were created to keep water from damaging the houses on the coast."

Zumwalt said although no one can predict when the tsunami will occur, people can be warned.

Zumwalt said since the United States is technologically more advanced than the countries that were affected by the tsunami, the United States should have an alert system that could save lives.

"An instantaneous e-mail would be a good way to warn people," Zumwalt said. "If people were warned through their cell phones it would be great because everyone has a cell phone."

According to ABC NEWS, the tsunami has destroyed a lot on land but even underneath the water, coral and habitats have been destroyed.

How to donate

Other countries' world leaders are willing to help by giving aid to these countries going through this disaster.

According to MSNBC, Austria and Germany were the first to pledge nearly $4 billion in aid. Austria and Germany's aid is the largest relief package ever given.

President Bush gave an "initial commitment" pledge of $350 million for the countries affected by the tsunami.

Tech is also striving to give contributions to the countries affected by the tsunami.

Tech's Association of Indian Students has three tables set up for Tech students to donate money to the disaster.

The tables are located in Tolliver Hall, the Student Center, Main Floor and in front of Wyly Tower.

Kunar said the money Tech students donate will go to the Direct Relief International in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"The money will go to basic needs and necessities for the survivors of the tsunami," Kunar said.

The Student Government Association and Louisiana Tech Campus Ministries are also trying to raise money.

"There is such a big need for the countries around the Indian Ocean for relief," John Aaron Matthew, president of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and a senior family and child studies major, said.

Donations can be given to any of the Tech campus ministries or to SGA.

Matthew said, "[Taking donations] seemed like the right thing to do in a small way."

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