Massive off-shore earthquake in South Asia

A massive earthquake (8.9 on the Richter scale) has struck off the shore of Indonesia, sending devastating tsunami waves to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Thailand.

The BBC estimates the death toll at 7,000 and rising due to the coastal resorts in the region being packed with holiday goers.

The blogsphere is the best aggregator of information about the quake - see Slashdot, The Command Post and this Daily Kos diary for latest updates discussion and details.

UPDATE: The death toll is over 10,000, and rising. Who knows how many of these deaths were likely preventable:

A warning centre such as those used around the Pacific could have saved most of the thousands of people who died in Asia's earthquake and tsunamis, a US Geological Survey official said.

None of the countries most severely affected - including India, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka - had a tsunami warning mechanism or tidal gauges to alert people to the wall of water that followed a massive earthquake, said Waverly Person of the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre.

"Most of those people could have been saved if they had had a tsunami warning system in place or tide gauges," he said yesterday.
Person said governments should instruct people living along the coast to move after a quake. Since a tsunami is generated at the source of an underwater earthquake, there is usually time - from 20 minutes to two hours - to get people away as it builds in the ocean.

"People along the Japanese coasts, along the coasts of California - people are taught to move away from the coasts. But a lot of these people in the area where this occurred - they probably had no kind of lessons or any knowledge of tsunamis because they are so rare."

UPDATE: toll rises to 44,000 confirmed dead. This animation of the wavefront is awe-inspiring.

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