Pacific Nations Prepare for Tsunamis


A tsunami is a series of waves that are caused by unnatural events. Scientists blame earthquakes for 90% of all tsunamis. Other causes may be landslides or underwater volcanoes that erupt.

The biggest tsunami in modern history hit southeastern Asia on December 26, 2004. An earthquake with an intensity of 9.4 occurred off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. A tsunami formed near the area where the earthquake happened and spread out into all directions. Within a few hours the tsunami hit 11 countries in the region and killed over 250, 000 people.

After the killer tsunami of 2004 countries all over the world agreed that they had to make plans to protect themselves from such devastating waves. Some countries, like Japan, already had good warning systems because they were a land of earthquakes and had been hit by hundreds of tsunamis in the past decades.

In 1960 the United Nations created an Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission. It has warning systems in many areas that pass on information to surrounding countries.


After the 2004 tsunami Indonesia started working on a warning system of its own. With the help of the German government a project was developed to deal with the dangerous waves. The new warning system has new computer software that examines how tsunami waves behave. It also shows where an earthquake happens and how powerful it is. In order to save as many lives as possible the system passes on the information to other stations within minutes.

Although about 60% of all tsunamis take place in the Pacific region killer waves can also spread across the Atlantic. In January 2007 Canada increased its protection. It opened up a warning system that observes possible tsunami areas in the Atlantic Ocean.


Tsunami strikes the coast

Tsunami strikes the coast


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  • agree = to be of the same opinion
  • although = while
  • behave = here: how they work
  • blame = it is the fault of
  • cause = the reason for something; why something happens
  • create = make
  • devastating = something that causes a lot of destruction
  • deal with = handle
  • decade = ten years
  • erupt = break out
  • examine = study, to find out something
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • increase = here: to get better
  • intensity = power, force
  • intergovernmental = between two or more governments or countries
  • landslide = when earth or rocks suddenly fall off a hill
  • observe = to watch carefully
  • occur = happen
  • pass on = to give to others
  • protect = defend themselves, save themselves
  • protection = defense, safety
  • scientist =a person who works in science
  • series = many
  • spread out = move
  • surrounding = nearby, neighboring