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Scientists warn of 2004-strength tsunami


1/18/2010

Section of fault line "near failure"...

A huge earthquake capable of generating a tsunami as large as the devastating waves in 2004 could strike off the Indonesian island of Sumatra, with the city of Padang directly in the fi ring line, a team of scientists has said. According to a Channel NewsAsia report, the group issued the warning in a letter to the journal, Nature Geoscience. The danger comes from a build-up of pressure over the last two centuries on a section of the Sunda Trench, which runs parallel to the western Sumatra coast, they said. This section is “near failure” the letter warned. “The threat of a great tsunamigenic earthquake with a magnitude of more than 8.5 on the Mentawai patch is unabated… There is potential for loss of life on the scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami,” the scientists wrote. “The threat from such an event is clear and the need for urgent mitigating action remains extremely high.”

The scientists are led by John McCloskey, a professor at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. According to the report, McCloskey correctly predicted a quake and subsequent tsunami in the area in March 2005, after studying major stress of fault lines created after the 2004 disaster. Such predictions are extraordinarily rare in the world of seismology, the report added. More than 220,000 people lost their lives in the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, with the wave caused by a 9.3-magnitude earthquake in the northern section of the Sunda Trench.

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