The Destruction from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Responses from the Maldives' Government

The Destruction from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Responses from the Maldives' Government

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The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was one of the deadliest and most destructive in recent history. It was even catastrophic for a country like Maldives that never experienced disasters of such scale. While some of the islands in Maldives were completely destroyed and a significant number of lives lost; the damages to economy, infrastructure, environment and human psyche was immeasurable (Pardasani, 2006, p. 80). Having only dealt with storm surges and localized flooding, “there were no operational plans or capacity to deal with a disaster of this magnitude” in Maldives (Government of Maldives, et al., 2005, p. 9). Despite some organizational shortcomings, mostly owing to their lack of experience in managing large-scale disasters and limited capacities, studies conducted by experts and professional bodies (such as Patel & White, 2006; Pardasani, 2006; United Nations Children's Fund , 2006) indicate a swift and adequate response from the Maldivian Government and response tools.

On Sunday, 26 December 2004, a magnitude Mw 9.1-9.3 earthquake occurred in the epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The two tectonic plates, Asian and Indian, shifted by 1,000 km fault line by as much as 20 meters. According to Charles Ammon, professor of geosciences at Penn State University, the earthquake lasted for 500-600 seconds as opposed to the usual few seconds, releasing energy equivalent to a 100 gigaton bomb and causing the entire planet to vibrate as much as half an inch (Walton, 2005). Although an appalling earthquake, it was the tsunami that did most of the damages. Several aftershocks and earthquakes were recorded, some registering up to 6.1 magnitudes. The repercussion of this disaster activate dormant volcanoes and triggered othe...


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...responded to this catastrophe with confidence and in the best interest of the affected people. The response from international aid agencies was professional and effective. Brown (2005) stated in his review that although transportation hindered emergency response and the government “faced a steep learning curve in early stages of the disaster”, its response was “remarkably effective”. The progressive report of MNPD (2006) also gives a highlight of outstanding development it achieved in terms of disaster preparedness and reviving the livelihood of affected people through progressive works in all key areas. In conclusion, all the accounts of response suggests that it was indeed headlong and apt, for a novice government and conscious decision making from the public and civil society, which is further reiterated in the study of Brown, Pardasani and Patel, S White, J.L..

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