US was aware of deadly Tidal Wave; it warned its naval base in Diego Garcia, but not other countries
Professor Michel Chossudovsky teaches at the University of Ottawa. In this
article for the Venus Project, he raises some important questions about the
conduct of the US during and after the Tsunami.
He discloses that the US had advance warning of the giant Tsunami waves and
warned its naval base at the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, but nit
the adjoining countries.
Now he asks, why an Army General based in Iraq has been assigned the task of
carrying out relief actvity in Indonesia.
Read and reflect.
December 29 2004
Foreknowledge of A Natural Disaster
Washington was aware that a deadly Tidal Wave was building up in the Indian
By Michel Chossudovsky
The Venus Project
The US Military and the State Department were given advanced warning.
America's Navy base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean was
Why were fishermen in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand not provided with the
same warnings as the US Navy and the US State Department?
Why did the US State Department remain mum on the existence of an impending
With a modern communications system, why did the information not get out? By
email, telephone, fax, satellite TV... ?
It could have saved the lives of more than 80,000 people. And the death toll
The earthquake was a Magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale, among the highest
in recorded history. US authorities had initially recorded 8.0 on the
As confirmed by several reports, US scientists in Hawaii, had advanced
knowledge regarding an impending catastrophe, but failed to contact their
Charles McCreery of the Pacific Warning Center in Hawaii confirmed that his
team tried desperately to get in touch with his counterparts in Asia.
According to McCreery, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration's center in Honolulu, the team did its utmost to contact the
[The NOAA in Hawaii's Report at:
His team contacted the US State Department, which apparently contacted the
Asian governments. The Indian government confirms that no such warning was
received. (The Hindu, 27 Dec 2004)
Nine (9.0) on the Richter scale: The Director of the Hawaii Warning Center
stated that "they did not know" that the earthquake would generate a deadly
tidal wave until it had hit Sri Lanka, more than one and a half hours later,
at 2.30 GMT. (see Timeline below)
"Not until the deadly wave hit Sri Lanka and the scientists in Honolulu saw
news reports of the damage there did they recognize what was happening...
'Then we knew there was something moving across the Indian Ocean,' said
Charles McCreery. (quoted in the NYT, 28 Dec 2004 ).
This statement is at odds with the Timeline of the tidal wave disaster.
Thailand was hit almost an hour before Sri Lanka and the news reports were
already out. Surely, these reports out of Thailand were known to the
scientists in Hawaii, not to mention the office of Sec. Colin Powell, well
before the tidal wave reached Sri Lanka.
''We wanted to try to do something, but without a plan in place then, it was
not an effective way to issue a warning, or to have it acted upon,'' Dr.
McCreery said. ''There would have still been some time -- not a lot of time,
but some time -- if there was something that could be done in Madagascar, or
on the coast of Africa.''
The above statement is also inconsistent.
The tidal wave reached the East African coastline several hours after it
reached The Maldives islands. According to news reports, Male, the capital
of the Maldives was hit three hours after the earthquake, at approximately
4.00 GMT. By that time everybody around the World knew.
It is worth noting that the US Navy was fully aware of the deadly tidal
wave, because the Navy was on the Pacific Warning Center's list of contacts.
Moreover, America's strategic Naval base on the island of Diego Garcia had
also been notified. Although directly in the path of the tidal wave (see
animated chart below), the Diego Garcia military base reported "no damage".
"One of the few places in the Indian Ocean that got the message of the quake
was Diego Garcia, a speck of an island with a United States Navy base,
because the Pacific warning center's contact list includes the Navy. Finding
the appropriate people in Sri Lanka or India was harder." (NYT, 28 Dec 2004,
Now how hard is it to pick up the phone and call Sri Lanka? According to
Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. "We don't
have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world."
Only after the first waves hit Sri Lanka did workers at National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center [PTWC] and
others in Hawaii start making phone calls to US diplomats in Madagascar and
Mauritius in an attempt to head off further disaster.
"We didn't have a contact in place where you could just pick up the phone,"
Dolores Clark, spokeswoman for the International Tsunami Information Center
in Hawaii said. "We were starting from scratch."
These statement on the surface are inconsistent, since several Indian Ocean
Asian countries are in fact members of the Tsunami Warning System.
There are 26 member countries of the International Coordination Group for
the Tsunami Warning System, including Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. All
these countries would normally be in the address book of the PTWC, which
works in close coordination with its sister organization the ICGTWS, which
has its offices in Honolulu at the headquarters of the National Weather
Service Pacific Region Headquarters in downtown Honolulu.
The mandate of the ICGTWS is to "assist member states in establishing
national warning systems, and makes information available on current
technologies for tsunami warning systems."
Australia and Indonesia were notified. The US Congress is to investigate why
the US government did not notify all the Indian Ocean nations in the
affected area: "Only two countries in the affected region, Indonesia and
Australia, received the warning"
"Although Thailand belongs to the international tsunami-warning network, its
west coast does not have the system's wave sensors mounted on ocean buoys.
The northern tip of the earthquake fault is located near the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands, and tsunamis appear to have rushed eastward toward the Thai
resort of Phuket.
"They had no tidal gauges and they had no warning," said Waverly Person, a
geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Centre in Golden,
Colorado, U.S., which monitors seismic activity worldwide. "There are no
buoys in the Indian Ocean and that's where this tsunami occurred."" (Hindu,
27 Dec 2004)
The issue of the Ocean sensors is a Red Herring. We were not able to warn
them because we had no sensors in the Indian Ocean: This argument is a Red
Herring. We are not dealing with advanced information based on the Ocean
sensors, but on an emergency warning transmitted in the immediate wake of
the earthquake. The latter took place at 00.58 GMT on the 26th of Dec. That
information was sent to The State Department and the US Navy.
With modern communications, the information of an impending disaster could
have been sent around the World in a matter of minutes, by email, by
telephone, by fax, not to mention by live satellite Television.
Coastguards, municipalities, local governments, tourist hotels, etc. could
have been warned.
According to Tsunami Society President Prof. Tad Murty of the University of
'There's no reason for a single individual to get killed in a tsunami,'
since most areas had anywhere from 25 minutes to four hours before a wave
hit. So, once again, because of indifference and corruption thousands of
innocent people have died needlessly." (Calgary Sun, 28 Dec 2004)
1 - Why were the Indian Ocean countries' governments not informed?
Were there "guidelines" from the US military or the State Department
regarding the release of an advanced warning?
According to the statement of the Hawaii based PTWC, advanced warning was
released but on a selective basis. Indonesia was already hit, so the warning
was in any event redundant and Australia was several thousand miles from the
epicentre of the earthquake and was, therefore, under no immediate threat.
2 - Did US authorities monitoring seismographic data have knowledge of the
earthquake prior to its actual occurrence at 00.57 GMT on the 26th of
The question is whether there were indications of abnormal seismic activity
prior to 01.00 GMT on the 26th of Dec.
The US Geological Survey confirmed that the earthquake which triggered the
tidal wave measured 9.0 on the Richter scale and was the fourth largest
quake since 1900. In such cases, one would expect evidence of abnormal
seismic activity before the actual occurrence of a major earthquake.
3 - Why is the US military Calling the Shots on Humanitarian Relief?
Why in the wake of the disaster, is the US military (rather than civilian
humanitarian/aid organizations operating under UN auspices) taking a lead
The US Pacific Command has been designated to coordinate the channeling of
emergency relief? Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Rusty Blackman, commander of the 3rd
Marine Expeditionary Force based in Okinawa, has been designated to lead the
emergency relief program
Lieutenant General Blackman was previously Chief of Staff for Coalition
Forces Land Component Command, responsible for leading the Marines into
Baghdad during "Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Three "Marine disaster relief assessment teams" under Blackman's command
have been sent to Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
US military aircraft are conducting observation missions.
In a bitter irony, part of this operation is being coordinated out of
America's Naval base in Diego Garcia, which was not struck by the tidal
wave. Meanwhile, "USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, which was in
Hong Kong when the earthquake and tsunamis struck, has been diverted to the
Gulf of Thailand to support recovery operations."
- Press Conference of Pacific Command,
Two Aircraft Carriers have been sent to the region. Why is it necessary for
the US to mobilize so much military equipment? The pattern is unprecedented:
Conway said the Lincoln carrier strike group has 12 helicopters embarked
that he said could be "extremely valuable" in recovery missions.
An additional 25 helicopters are aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, headed to the
Bay of Bengal. Conway said the expeditionary strike group was in Guam and is
forgoing port visits in Guam and Singapore and expects to arrive in the Bay
of Bengal by Jan. 7.
Conway said the strike group, with its seven ships, 2,100 Marines and 1,400
sailors aboard, also has four Cobra helicopters that will be instrumented in
Because fresh water is one of the greatest needs in the region, Fargo has
ordered seven ships each capable of producing 90,000 gallons of fresh
water a day to the region. Conway said five of these ships are
pre-positioned in Guam and two will come from Diego Garcia.
A field hospital ship pre-positioned in Guam would also be ordered to the
region, depending on findings of the disaster relief assessment teams and
need, Conway said. (Ibid)
Why has a senior commander involved in the invasion of Iraq been assigned to
lead the US emergency relief program?
The Tsunami Timeline
Sunday 26 December 2004 (GMT)
00.57 GMT: Between 00.57 GMT and 00.59 GMT, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake
occurs on the seafloor near Aceh in northern Indonesia. (See -
http://ioc.unesco.org/itsu/ - and other reports)
00.58 GMT: Saturday 25 December, 2.58 pm Hawaii Time (GMT-10) 26 December
00.58 GMT. US government's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center registers the
earthquake on its seismic instruments, in other words at the time of its
occurrence at 00.58 GMT.
Shortly after 01.00 GMT: Earthquake hits several cities in Indonesia,
creates panic in urban areas in peninsular Malaysia. The news of the
earthquakes is reported immediately.
01.3O GMT: Phuket and Coast of Thailand: The tidal wave hits to coastline
shortly after 8.30 am, 01.30 GMT
02.30 GMT: Colombo Sri Lanka and Eastern Coast of Sri Lanka, the tidal wave
hits the coastal regions close to the capital Colombo, according to report
at 8.30 am local time, 02.30 GMT (an hour and a half after the earthquake)
02.45 GMT: India's Eastern Coastline. The tsunami hits India's eastern coast
from 6:15 a.m.(2:45 GMT)
04.00 GMT: Male, Maldives: From about 9:00 am (0400 GMT), three hours after
the earthquake, the capital, Male, and other parts of the country were
flooded by the tsunami. (more than three hours after the earthquake)
11.00 GMT (approximate time according to news dispatches): East Coast of
Africa is hit. More than ten hours after the earthquake
The animation below indicates approximate times at which the tidal wave hits
the coastal areas of Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Sri Lanka,
India, Bangladesh, The Maldives.
The Richter Scale
US scientists in Hawaii had initially indicated that the earthquake was of a
magnitude of 8.0 (ten times weaker than in the case a 9.0 earthquake on the
How can an error of this nature be made, with very sophisticated measuring
According to Natural Resources Canada: "The magnitude of an earthquake is a
measure of the amount of energy released. Each earthquake has a unique
magnitude assigned to it. This is based on the amplitude of seismic waves
measured at a number of seismograph sites, after being corrected for
distance from the earthquake. Magnitude estimates often change by up to 0.2
units, as additional data are included in the estimate.
The Richter scale is logarithmic, that is an increase of 1 magnitude unit
represents a factor of ten times in amplitude. The seismic waves of a
magnitude 6 earthquake are 10 times greater in amplitude than those of a
magnitude 5 earthquake. However, in terms of energy release, a magnitude 6
earthquake is about 31 times greater than a magnitude 5. The intensity of an
earthquake varies greatly according to distance from the earthquake, ground
conditions, and other factors. The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale is used
to describe earthquake effects."
The following criteria are given by Natural Resources, Canada: M=8: "Great"
earthquake, great destruction, loss of life over several 100 km (1906 San
Francisco, 1949 Queen Charlotte Islands)
M=9: Rare great earthquake, major damage over a large region over 1000 km
(Chile 1960, Alaska 1964, and west coast of British Columbia, Washington,
Source Natural Resources Canada: