counting the cost
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?...
I presume I'm not alone in trying to find answers where none exist... in the aftermath of the tsunami. Maybe I am. Whatever.
My parents come from the south of Sri Lanka. When I was younger, I used to spend my school holidays in Galle (free logins for the Washington Post article here). Visiting all the beaches in a 20-30 mile radius, cycling through the busy bus stand... and now I'm told that the water has scythed it's way through all of those, and left only piles of rubble. And more than 2000 dead.
The best beach that I've ever seen is not in the touristy Hikkaduwa, but in a deserted cove near Tangalle, and this is where a friend of my parents decided to build his retirement house. My dad still hasn't been able to get in touch and we now fear the worst.
Someone I know well had 22 members of her extended family washed away. Imagine. 22 members, in one fell swoop. Just like that.
And in another retreat to the technical, I have a few more earthquake links. Didn't notice this earlier, Wikipedia has a frequently updated entry on the quake here, the US GeoSurvey page is here and I got this very useful earthquake index page from a comment on Slashdot.
update: Got one more, the NOAA, which has a bit more about tsunami and the general terminology.
And my final thought, imagine the devastation if the tsunami had rolled over the west instead of the south and east coasts. The west coastline stretch probably has about half of the population of Sri Lanka. If not more.