Tsunami is not the first seaquake in Sri Lanka

Exactly five years ago today (December 26, 2009), a seaquake off Indonesia moved the sea-bed releasing energy 30,000 times higher than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshimam vibrating the whole planet and the blast disturbing the rotation.

As in the records, it triggered the entire planet earth to vibrate at least half an inch.

However, the one, on December 26, 2004 was not the first instance when Sri Lanka experienced the effects of a tsunami.

As per the historical records the first ever the tsunami had taken place during the reign of King Kelanitissa in the Kingdom of Kelaniya around 2,200 years ago, while Ruhuna was ruled by the King Kavantissa, the father of King Dutugemunu.

It has been in an article that the water flow/tidal waves in the tsunami in 2004 was like the flow through an anicut when compared to that of the tsunami when King Kelanitissa was ruling over Kelaniya.

Although we find in the historical records that the tidal waves of that tsunami forced to seven gawwas interior to the inland at Kelaniya, we are not sure regarding the damage caused by this wave, We have no records of details of rehabilitation and reconstruction work undertaken by King Kelanitissa or by his successors. After that seaquake, historical records reveal that there was severe one (earthquake/seaquake) on April 24, 1615 when Manuel Mascarenhas Homem was the Captain General in Colombo (1614-1616) and Senerath (1604-1635) was the King of Kandy.

After this earthquake, another earthquake shook Batticaloa on June 14, 1814 which caused much damage. This was very close to the sea and the sea became very rough. On August 27, 1883, a terrible volcano erupted in the straits of Sumatra and the Java coast, with enormous destruction to life and property, the effects of tidal waves being felt on the Sri Lanka coast and away in East Africa and the Pacific coast.

Thereafter, another earthquake shook the central and South West island, early in the morning of September 11, 1938, History reveals that, Indian Ocean area is an earthquake prone area and Sri Lanka is not completely out of any danger of earthquakes.

The December 2004 disaster killed people in 14 countries. Waves more than 100 feet (30 metres) high struck northern Sumatra and deposited sand more than a mile inland, researchers in Thailand disclosed. The waves also ran more than a mile inland, leaving a deposit of sand some two to eight inches thick.

It is well known that Sri Lanka was the second worst affected country, more than 30,000 people were dead, and thousands more still missing. The damage caused todate runs into billions rupees/dollars.

By June 16, 2005 the Government of Sri Lanka reported that:

=31,229 persons died as a result of the tsunami,

=4,100 persons are missing.

=516,150 persons are currently registered as tsunami-displaced in welfare centres or staying with friends and relatives.

=14 out of 28 Sri Lankan districts were affected by the tsunami.

= 23,449 acres of cultivated land were affected including 9,000 acres of paddy, 645 acres of other field crops, 12,928 home gardens, 559 acres of vegetable farms and 317 acres of fruit trees according to FAQ and the Ministry of Agriculture.

= 16,479 fishing crafts were damaged or destroyed which represents 50 per cent of the Sri Lankan fleet, according to FAQ, and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

= 86 Medical facilities were damaged or destroyed, not including pharmacies and other medical-related facilities, according to TAFRENT.

= 275,000 lost jobs - nine out of ten working men and women - according to ILO with 34 per cent of such jobs having been in the fishing industry.

=195 educational facilities including universities and vocational training centres were damaged with 59 schools totally destroyed and 117 partically destroyed, according to TAFREN.

A tsunami (pronounced tsoo-nah-mee) is a wave train, or series of waves, generated in a body of water by an impulsive disturbance that vertically-displaces the water column. Earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions and even the impact of cosmic bodies, such as meteorites can generate tsunamis.

Tsunamis can savagely attack coast lines causing devastating property damage and loss of life. Tsunami is a Japanese word with the English translation, ‘harbour wave’. Represented by two characters, the top character, ‘tsu,’ means harbour, while the bottom character, ‘Nami’ means ‘wave’.

In the past, tsunamis were sometimes referred to as ‘Tidal waves’ by the general public, and as ‘seismic sea waves’ by the scientific community.

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