Indonesia earthquake and tsunami

On the 28th September 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The earthquake triggered a tsunami warning, which was lifted soon after. However, not long after this, a tsunami hit the coast around the city of Palu, wiping out buildings, killing hundreds of people.

Click here or in the box below to follow the event as it unfolded

Video reports:

Live updates provided on Guardian website while the event unfolded.

Drone footage shows extent of damage in Palu:




Nepal earthquake 2015

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015 at 11.41 am (local time), the worst in 81 years. A state of emergency was declared as over 7,000 fatalities were reported by the following Saturday. The epicentre of the earthquake was 2km below the ground. As a result of the shallow nature of the earthquake, the impacts have been devastating, toppling buildings, opening gaping cracks in roads and sending people rushing into the open as aftershocks rattled their damaged homes.

Where do major earthquakes happen and why? view here

Source - BBC News
Source – BBC News
Seismologists have expected a major earthquake in western Nepal, where pressure has been building from the grinding between tectonic plates — the northern Eurasia plate and the up-thrusting Indian plate.

The quake caused dozens of buildings in Kathmandu to collapse, including the historic Dharahara Tower. The city’s main hospital was overwhelmed by casualties and residents faced a nights on the streets with nowhere to go. Most of the Nepalese fatalities were from the Kathmandu Valley.

The earthquake caused avalanches on Mount Everest. An Indian army mountaineering team has found 18 bodies on Mount Everest.

The avalanche had buried part of the base camp and two tents had been filled with casualties.

Ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on Everest when the earthquake struck.

At least 34 deaths occurred in northern India. Buildings swayed in Tibet and Bangladesh.

View a series of before and after slider images here

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. As a result, it is not best placed to deal with such a major natural disaster GNP per capita of Nepal is $730 (2013), whereas the GNP per capital of the UK is $41,680 (2013).

Political instability does little to boost Nepal’s resilience. “This earthquake is the nightmare scenario. The country has … suffered terrible conflicts, poor governance, and heart-wrenching poverty, all of which created and perpetuated the vulnerability which has been devastatingly exposed.” (Ian Kelman of the UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction).

Why is Nepal vulnerable to earthquakes?

ANIMATION – Plate tectonics. The Himalayas

The government had made some improvements in making some buildings more robust and reinforcing vulnerable ones, but many larger buildings, such as hospitals and older homes, remained extremely vulnerable. In addition, rapid urbanisation in cities like Kathmandu has meant that many homes have been built at a high density.

However, it appears that newer buildings fared better and withstood the quake, whereas the older buildings were worse affected. On the positive side, the earthquake struck on a Saturday, when schools were not in session, which may have reduced the death toll.

VIDEO – What caused the earthquake?

Meanwhile a powerful aftershock was felt on Sunday in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and more avalanches were reported near Everest.

The 6.7 magnitude tremor, centred 60km (40 miles) east of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, sent people running in panic for open ground in the city.

VIDEO – Drone footage shows extent of damage

VIDEO – More drone footage was filmed in the Sindhupalchok district, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Kathmandu, near the epicentre of the earthquake

The problems were compounded by erratic internet and mobile phone communications. Many roads were blocked by rubble, there were landslides as well. As a result, getting aid to places that needed it was more difficult.

VIDEO – Nepal declares state of emergency

Offers of aid: 

  • The US sent a disaster response team and released an initial $1m (£0.7m) according to the US aid agency USAid
  • India sent several aircraft, carrying medical supplies and a mobile hospital, as well as a 40-strong disaster response team, including rescuers with dogs 
  • The UK is sent an eight-strong team of humanitarian experts 
  • Pakistan is sent four C-130 aircraft carrying a 30-bed field hospital and army doctors and specialists; urban search-and-rescue teams equipped with radars and sniffer dogs; and food items, including 2,000 meals, 200 tents and 600 blankets
  • Norway promised 30 million krone (£2.5m; $3.9m) in humanitarian assistance
  • Germany, Spain, France, Israel and the European Union also pledged to send aid

How inflatable hospitals are saving lives in Nepal



    More details on the earthquake:

    What are the challenges of disaster relief? Read about them here

    VIDEO – Was Nepal prepared for a major earthquake?

    Article – A disaster that shows quakes don’t kill people, buildings do

    Five facts that explain Nepal’s devastating earthquake here.

    VIDEO – Nepal Sherpas worry about their livelihoods as tourist season is cancelled

    View INTERACTIVE MAP showing areas and population likely to be affected by future earthquakes in Nepal.

    After four days, frustration evident in Nepal over pace of response to the disaster. Read and watch video report here

    How crisis mapping is helping the relief effort.

    After several weeks, attention turned to the longer term impacts, as questions were asked as to whether the economy of Nepal can recover from this major event. Read here

    Images before and after – ArcGIS story maps show how things have changed.

    Additional resources:

    CLICK HERE to view You Tube video playlist of reports from Nepal.

    Visit the BBC News NEPAL EARTHQUAKE – SPECIAL REPORT page for more in depth coverage.

    Sources and more information: BBC News, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, New York Times, World Bank, Reuters, ITV news, Channel 4 News

    More info here:

    Vanuatu – Cyclone Pam Case Study

    Tropical cyclone Pam has brought torrential rain and damaging winds to the islands of Vanuatu.

    Pam began to form on the 6th of March, 750km to the east-northeast of the Solomon Islands – a remote island chain about 1,750km northeast of Australia’s north-eastern city of Cairns.

    The system developed as a twin disturbance before becoming a cyclone. Since then Pam gained energy from the warm waters of the South Pacific. Sustained, destructive winds of more than 180 mph hit Vanuatu, the rainfall caused just as many problems. A rainfall report of 495mm for one 24 hour period was recorded.



    VIDEO – Dozens reported killed in Vanuatu cyclone

    Cyclone Pam leaves ‘most’ of Vanuatu population homeless

    Vanuatu appeals for aid in wake of devastating cyclone



    State of emergency declared for Port Vila after Cyclone Pam

    UN confirms 24 dead and 3,300 displaced in Vanuatu

     Vanuatu development wiped out by ‘monster’ Cyclone Pam. 90% of buildings in capital affected 



    VIDEO – Cyclone Pam: ‘Hungry, homeless and alone’

    Vanuatu islanders forced to drink saltwater

    INTERACTIVE – Before and after: Cyclone Pam’s impact on Vanuatu


    Boxing day Tsunami – 10 years on

    On the 26th December 2004, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake occurred off the western coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The thrust was so violent, it released the energy equivalent of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.

    BBC News map
    Source – BBC News website

    It was the fourth largest earthquake in recent times. 14 countries were affected including Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bangladesh. Among the worst-hit regions was Aceh, an Indonesian province on the northern tip of Sumatra. 30 metre high waves travelled inland, killing approximately 130,000 people, whilst more than half a million were displaced.

    10 years on, this BBC News video takes a closer look at the scale of the disaster

    According to Oxfam, five million people were affected of which 1.7m were made homeless, half a million were injured and more than 230,000 were killed.


    Source of map above and more details here – Views of the World


    BBC News report from 26th December 2004. Including explanation about how it happened.

    The BBC News website created a Special report page to highlight the extent of the devastation

    Documentary – The wave that shook the world


    Ten years on

    Then and Now – You can view a collection of interactive images here which allow you to see how things have changed since the tsunami by toggling on the images for before and after shots.

    VIDEO – This collection of images shows the changes 10 years on.

    This selection of images also shows the extent of the impact and how people and the environment have recovered since

    Sky News documentary – 10 years after the wave:

    The World Health Organization estimates that up to 20 percent of a population may suffer stress-related disorders in the aftermath of a calamity like the Indian Ocean tsunami.


    Impact on tourism

    Many were concerned that the tsunami would have a long term impact on the tourism industry in places like Indonesia and Thailand. However, Phuket recovered within 6 months according to those involved in tourism in the area. Read more here 


    Fertility boom

    In communities where the tsunami cost lives, research suggests there has been a fertility boom. Mothers who lost children during the disaster were much more likely to have more children in the 5 years after the event, than those who did not suffer a death. Read more about the research here.


    Learning the lessons

    The tsunami prompted a rethink of Indonesia’s disaster management procedures. In the aftermath of the disaster, laws were passed making it mandatory for new homes, buildings and schools to include disaster mitigation plans.


    More details about tsunami preparations and how science is still learning from the 2004 event

    In Banda Aceh, signs now point out tsunami evacuation routes and in some places warning sirens have been installed.


    The Aceh Tsunami Museum — housed in a building shaped like the prow of a ship — not only commemorates the disaster, but also serves as an emergency shelter should a tsunami ever hit the city again.

    Also, each year teachers take part in disaster training conducted by the government and the Indonesian Red Cross. Many schools also holds annual disaster drills to teach students what to do in the event of another major event.

    In Phuket, communities have taken responsibility for preparations in the event of another tsunami. VIDEO REPORT here:

    In 2010, Sri Lanka carried out its first major earthquake and tsunami drill. 14,000 people across 14 coastal areas were evacuated. Read more here

    More have been carried out since on a regular basis

    Meanwhile, 24 countries participated in a major Indian Ocean-wide mock tsunami drill on September 9th and 10th 2014 that was aimed at testing the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS). More details here 


    Is the world better prepared for disaster?

    Read this article from CBS News

    Read this article from CNN


    Find out more about Tsunamis on the BBC Earth page. Full of useful information here


    Sources – BBC News; Sky News; Daily Telegraph; Oxfam; New York Daily News; Phuket Gazette; The Jakarta Globe; IRIN News; News First Sri Lanka; ABC News (Australia); CBS News; The Independent; Views of the world; Al Jazeera English