(Based on the December 26 th attack) What Are Tsunamis, and What Causes Them? Tsunamis are ocean waves produced by earthquakes or underwater landslides. The word is Japanese and means 'harbor wave,' because of the devastating effects these waves have had on low-lying Japanese coastal communities. A tsunami is a series of waves that can travel at speeds averaging 450 (and up to 600) miles per hour in the open ocean. As the waves approach the coast, their speed decreases and their amplitude increases. Tsunamis are most often generated by earthquake-induced movement of the ocean floor. Landslides, volcanic eruptions, and even meteorites can also generate a tsunami.

Areas at greatest risk are less than 25 feet above sea level and within one mile of the shoreline. From an initial tsunami generating source area, waves travel outward in all directions much like the ripples caused by throwing a rock into a pond. As these waves approach coastal areas, the time between successive wave crests varies from 5 to 90 minutes. Their Effect... on lives Most deaths caused by a tsunami are because of drowning. Associated risks include flooding, contamination of drinking water, fires from ruptured tanks or gas lines, and the loss of vital community infrastructure...

on hygiene Contrary to popular belief that rapid burial is essential to prevent outbreaks of disease, post-disaster, a report by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) says: " dead bodies pose a negligible risk .".. on the infrastructure With most people focusing their attention on the losses suffered by the fishing community, in the aftermath of the tsunami, Tamil Nadu's (deprived of aid) coastal farmers have to come to terms with destroyed crops, damaged soil and devastated livelihoods. Scores of farmers in Tamil Nadu face an uncertain future as the water that engulfed their fields, washing away crops, has left the soil saline and un cultivable. Although the extent of the damage is yet to be fully assessed, officials say that a substantial proportion of cultivable land has been contaminated by salt water... on tourism Tourism constitutes a major sector of the Indian economy and it will be correct to say that it has been affected due to the tsunami tragedy.

Tourists who were planning to go to the south - eastern coastal regions have cancelled their bookings at the last few minutes. Travel agents have had to deal with these last-minutes cancellations and there will be an immediate impact on the travel industry for India. It is difficult to say how long it will last. This, though, depends on how quickly the government rehabilitates the affected places such as the ones shown on T. V.

If tourists watch such images they wouldn't want to return to this country, as these images are highly disturbing and don't present a very good picture of India. This kind of disaster is very similar to the outbreak of SARs in southeast Asia a few years ago. Though it resulted in huge setback in the travel industry, concerted efforts on the part of the respective governments have ensured that its effect didn't last for too long. Now these countries are again tourist hot spots.

Loans India has approached the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for financial assistance in rebuilding infrastructure and restoring livelihoods in areas devastated by the South Asian tsunami, which killed thousands of people and damaged property worth around $1. 6 billion in the country. The Indian government has announced a package of Rs 2, 731. 04 crore (Rs 27 billion) for the fisheries and housing sectors. From this, Rs 861.

82 crore would be released for immediate relief measures. The bulk of the assistance has been provided to Tamil Nadu, which has got Rs. 2, 262. 65 crores, followed by Rs.

245. 94 crores to Kerala, Rs. 153. 46 crores for Pondicherry and Rs. 68. 99 crores for Andhra Pradesh.

The Benefit: The countries should be able to absorb the impact and even get a boost from reconstruction in rural areas that were hit hardest by the giant waves. Reconstruction from natural disasters requires new investment that should have a positive impact. And investment should translate into jobs. Therefore, it is possible that the overall economic impact could well end up being somewhat positive..