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What kind of damage can a tsunami cause?

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Quick Answer

Tsunamis can cause tremendous destruction of property and loss of lives. They can completely destroy buildings and leave towns in a devastated state. Small tsunamis are non-destructive, and they happen frequently due to minor earthquakes; however, large tsunamis reach incredible heights, and they savagely attack coastlines.

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What kind of damage can a tsunami cause?
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The amount of water and energy brought by a tsunami causes destruction, especially when it hits populated areas. In addition to property damage and fatalities, tsunamis cause disease, environmental damage and psychological problems. Areas near the coast get flooded with sea water, and infrastructure, such as fresh water supplies and sewage, are damaged. This results in water contamination that can cause the spread of diseases, such as malaria. Tsunamis not only destroy lives, they also affect natural resources, animals, plants and landscapes. They kill land and sea animals, uproot trees and damage animal habitats. Waste gets mixed up with toxic substances and hazardous materials, contaminating soil and water. Moreover, victims of tsunami catastrophes often suffer traumas and psychological problems in the aftermath.

A small tsunami wave typically reaches only 30 centimeters high, but it can become a huge wave that reaches 30 meters high as it strikes the shore. The effects of a tsunami are further magnified when a lagoon, harbor or bay funnels the waves as the waves move inland. Tsunamis can rise to more than 100 feet.

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Related Questions

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    Where did the Indian Ocean tsunami occur?

    A:

    The waves of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, caused by the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, originated in the open ocean located to the west of Sumatra in Indonesia, where the event claimed 130,736 lives. Other hard-hit countries in the path of the tsunami were Sri Lanka, where 35,322 people died; India, where 12,405 people died; and Thailand, where 5,395 people lost their lives.

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    What is a tsunami?

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    A tsunami is a series of waves generated by a disturbance on the ocean floor. This disturbance can be caused by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, explosions or meteorites. The waves have very long wavelengths, which can travel hundreds of miles across the ocean. As the waves reach the continental shelf, they can grow to be several meters in height and cause extensive destruction along the coastline.

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    How can a tsunami be prevented?

    A:

    No known way to prevent a tsunami from occurring exists. Individuals can take steps to be prepared for a tsunami, and warning systems can help get people out of harm's way if an impending tsunami is predicted.

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    Can we prevent a tsunami?

    A:

    A tsunami is a natural geohazard that is almost impossible to prevent from forming or occurring. Though it cannot be prevented, damage from a tsunami can be reduced through sophisticated early warning systems, effective response and community preparedness. The United Nations Environment Program also suggests that tsunamis cause less damage in areas where there are natural tsunami barriers, such as coastal vegetation, coral reefs and mangroves.

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