Tragedy, Disaster, Danger and Triumph
The 9.0-strength earthquake that struck just west of Sumatra on December 26th also caused enormous damage throughout South Asia. Tidal waves, called tsunami, struck Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldive Islands, and even reached the east coast of Africa, killing people in Somalia. One of the best sources for hard information about earthquakes anywhere in the world is the US Geological Survey. The site lists 45 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher for the last week. The majority of them are aftershocks from the main earthquake that hit the day after Christmas.
Tim Blair has some good information, plus some links to others in the area - well worth checking out. If you're looking for places to donate to help the survivors, Tim has several links. So do Hugh Hewitt (WorldVision), Scrappleface (Southern Baptist Convention), and dozens of others.
In addition to the Red Cross, WorldVision, and several other charities linked to from the above sites, you can also donate to the International Salvation Army, who says they already have people in the major disaster areas, rendering assistance. This blog provides the most comprehensive list of links to aid groups, information, and commentary on the earthquake and its aftermath.
There are some interesting facts about the Sumatra earthquake, including one report that said the entire island of Sumatra, all 187,000 square miles (larger than California), moved 100 feet because of it. The fault line that runs southwest of Sumatra also extends up toward the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a chain of islands belonging to India. There have been many reports of damage on the Indian subcontinent, but I've heard nothing about the conditions on these islands. With several large aftershocks in the 5.0-7.3 range shaking them, I'm sure the damage has been pretty severe.
Nor is the danger over. One geophysicist I know says that the magnitude of this earthquake will likely trigger others in the general area. In fact, there have been modest quakes in the Philippines and in the Papua New Guinea area since the Sumatra quake. There's also the possibility that the quake will trigger additional volcanic activity in the active volcanos scattered around the area, from Sumatra through the Philippines and even into the central Pacific. It will probably take months for the area to quieten down again as the changes in stress patterns across the many faults there stabilize.
Between the bombing in Mosul and the earthquake in Sumatra, several billion people celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, God born as man. Jesus's birth and life bring us hope and the promise of peace - not necessarily peace on Earth, but peace in our own hearts, and in our own families. If enough of us accept that promise of peace and live it every day, perhaps the possibility of peace on Earth will become a reality.