Tuesday, February 15, 2005


The First Tsunami Lawsuit

A group of Austrian and German tsunami victims has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Thailand and the French hotel chain Accor.

The targets are the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Washington and its Hawaii-based tsunami warning centre; the Accor group of hotels where some of the victims stayed; and the Thai government.

The NOAA is accused of having registered the earthquake but failed to alert Indian Ocean countries of the impending tsunamis as the Hawaii centre covered only the Pacific.

The lawyers said that if the NOAA and Thai authorities, which had their own information, had passed on their alerts in time, it would have enabled people on shorelines to flee inland. 'We have evidence they did not warn us, even though they knew a quarter of an hour later about the strength and location of the quake, and although there is supposed to be a tsunami warning' from 6.5 on the Richter scale, Hasslacher said. The quake measured 9.0.

Accor is named in the lawsuit because the plaintiffs say the chain did not properly inform relatives of the victims after the disaster and had built its Sofitel hotel on the island of Phuket on a quake fracture line.

Wow! If all else fails, then sue sue sue! Never mind the magnitude of this natural disaster, it's always the fault of government and big business.

The earthquake occurred on the interface of the India and Burma plates, which is in one of the most tectonically complex regions in the world, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The India plate is plunging underneath the Burma plate, creating a so-called megathrust fault at the plates' boundaries. The quake and its aftershocks were distributed along much of that fault, with a total movement of about 1,000 kilometers (about 600 miles).

Now please tell me if I'm missing something here, but couldn't the governments of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Maldives and Cocos Islands, have set up their own warning system for the Indian Ocean? Why is it always the eeevil U.S's fault?

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