Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time for 4th Fleet to Move Again

Chile has been hit by a massive earthquake and a tsunami threatens a large area in the Pacific:

A devastating earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, toppling homes, collapsing bridges and plunging trucks into the fractured earth. A tsunami set off by the magnitude-8.8 quake threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean — roughly a quarter of the globe.

A tsunami could reach as far as Asia in the next 24 hours, and even the west coast of North America up to Alaska, although that is unlikely according to a source in the article.

Chile is at least a more prosperous nation so there are more resources at hand. We shall see how quickly we can ramp up help in a more distant Chile after dealing with the initial response in Haiti. On the bright side, if one can speak of that, knowledge and experience still fresh from working in Haiti will come in handy with this disaster.

Casualty counts--still reported as low--will rise unless Chile is very lucky. A lot will depend on the building codes (and actual practices) and whether they are closer to Western standards than Haitian standards.

I hate the news on days like this.

UPDATE: Hawaii is in the cross hairs, although the strength of the waves is still in doubt. Warnings have blared in Hawaii and we'll know in a matter of hours. Hopefully this will just be an opportunity to have a realistic test of the tsunami warning system rather than a real event that could cause mass casualties.

UPDATE: Why Chile will suffer far, far fewer deaths than Haiti:

The earthquake in Chile was far stronger than the one that struck Haiti last month — yet the death toll in this Caribbean nation is magnitudes higher.

The reasons are simple.

Chile is wealthier and infinitely better prepared, with strict building codes, robust emergency response and a long history of handling seismic catastrophes. No living Haitian had experienced a quake at home when the Jan. 12 disaster crumbled their poorly constructed buildings.

And Chile was relatively lucky this time.

Saturday's quake was centered offshore an estimated 21 miles (34 kilometers) underground in a relatively unpopulated area while Haiti's tectonic mayhem struck closer to the surface — about 8 miles (13 kilometers) — and right on the edge of Port-au-Prince, factors that increased its destructiveness.

Yeah. That sums it up.