December 28, 2004
Insubstantial Warning Unheeded
Even if there was a tsunami warning system in place for the Indian Ocean it may not have helped at all if people didn't act on the limited information available to them at the time.
The Thai government has generally maintained that it has done what it could under intensely difficult circumstances, with little warning and limited resources. But a front-page story published Tuesday in a Bangkok newspaper, the Nation, reported that Thai officials were aware of the possibility of the tsunami early Sunday morning -- more than an hour before it hit -- but rejected suggestions of an evacuation, fearing the consequences for the tourism industry during one of the busiest weeks of the year. The report could not be independently confirmed.
If the report is true I will grant Thai officials didn't have much to offer the effected areas. The best they could have done was inform beachfront resorts that a strong earthquake could produce tsunamis. There's no assumption any warning would have been heeded. Locals could have just brushed it off since tsunamis rarely happen in that area. So, I disagree with Kevin when he writes, "Unbelievable." When a natural disaster happens for the first time in hundreds of years any sort of blame game is pointless.