The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster

By Pradyumna P. Karan; Shanmugam P. Subbiah | Go to book overview

7
Tsunami Disasters in Seenigama Village,
Sri Lanka, and Taro Town, Japan

Kenji Yamazaki and Tomoko Yamazaki

This chapter describes the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster that occurred at Seenigama, Sri Lanka, in December 2004, and analyzes the damage done to the village. Then, in order to offer useful suggestions for developing measures to mitigate the damage from tsunamis, the case of Taro Town in Iwate Prefecture, Japan, which has been attacked by tsunamis many times, is introduced and compared with the case of Seenigama. The structure of vulnerability is also discussed as one of the key issues in analyzing a disaster and providing effective measures for mitigation.

A research trip to Seenigama, Sri Lanka, was made in 2006. In this village on December 26, 2004, the tsunami killed residents, destroyed many houses, and overturned a train. During the field research, actual damages were observed, and survivors, villagers, and officials were interviewed. Maps of the damage of this village were made based on the field observation and interviews. Research trips to Taro Town were made between 2001 and 2007. Taro Town experienced devastating tsunamis in 1896 and 1933, and some remnants of the experiences can still be observed. There were only 36 survivors out of approximately 2,000 villagers in 1896, and just 1,828 villagers out of 5,120 survived in 1933. Since 1933, however, there has not been any loss of human life caused by tsunamis due to the effective damage mitigation measures the town adopted. Survivors from the great tsunami of 1933 and officials were interviewed. Historical documents and data from municipal government archives were also collected.

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