What Kind of Damage Can a Tsunami Cause?

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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.

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.