Indian Ocean Tsunami:
Why did the Information Not Get Out? by Michel Chossudovsky
February 7, 2005 GlobalResearch.ca
- 2005-06-17 The tsunami warning system was examined in two earlier texts:
The text below examines the broader seismic network as well as the system of satellite imagery, which provides data in
near real time.
(link to complete article at the end of this summary)
of the most destructive and powerful earthquakes in recorded history, more than a quarter of a million recorded deaths, local
economies destroyed, the lives of entire communities shattered, and no serious investigation into the flaws of the global
seismic warning system is contemplated.
According to Columbia University's Earth Institute
the M-9.0 Sumatra – Andaman Island earthquake on December 26th released energy, equivalent roughly to 700 million Hiroshima
Seismic information regarding what scientists identify as a "rare great earthquake", was available in near real
time (i.e. almost immediately) to seismic centers around the World.
Other types of data, including satellite imagery
were also available in near real time.
The advanced global seismic information and communications systems were fully
Why then, did the information not get out on the morning of December 26th?
Ten of thousands of
lives could have been saved.
The issue has been skirted by the Western media, sidestepped by the governments and the
UN, not to mention the international scientific community.What Happened on the Morning of December
The tsunami was triggered within minutes of the earthquake, prior to the release of the first
tsunami advisory bulletin by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii, so it was no longer a question of emitting
"a warning" of an imminent danger. The catastrophe had already happened.
In other words, by the time the first tsunami
bulletin had been issued at 01.14 GMT, the deadly seismic wave was already sweeping Banda, the capital of Aceh province in
Northern Sumatra, causing thousands of deaths.
This ex post facto bulletin emitted by the PTWC, did not even warn of
the potential danger of a tsunami. Moreover, it casually dismissed an established and scientifically accepted relationship:
"If it were a 9 earthquake ... with the thrusting in an ocean basin margin, the likelihood is almost 1:1 that it
would generate a tsunami" (Dr. Charles Groat, Director, US Geological Survey in testimony to the Science Committee of
the US House of Representatives, 26 Jan 2005).
Tip of the Iceberg
The PTWC bulletins are but the tip of the iceberg.
The information on the quake was known and available in real time, to an entire network of seismic organizations.
was also on hand and accessible to a number of government agencies both in the US and internationally, almost immediately.
Numerous officials, scientists, members of the military and intelligence services, had advanced knowledge of an impending
In other words, we are not dealing with the failures of a single warning Center in Ewo, Hawaii, but with
an entire Worldwide network of seismic information, satellite imagery and other sophisticated data, which was available almost
immediately.Who informs Whom?
The question is not why the PTWC did not
emit a tsunami warning, but why did an entire global network of scientists and officials not emit a warning, in relation to
one of the largest quakes in recorded history.
While the PTWC had indeed formally notified Washington and the Military
at the Diego Garcia island base, the US government and military already knew, because the seismic data had been processed
within minutes by an agency under the jurisdiction of the US Department of the Interior, namely the National Earthquake Information Center
(NEIC) based in Golden, Colorado.
The data regarding the magnitude of the earthquake originated from four seismic
stations located in the Indian Ocean, operated by the International Deployment of Accelerometers (IDA) Project
."Received signals three minutes, thirty seconds after the quake began"
testimony to the US Congress (Jan 26, 2005), Scripps (SIO) Deputy-Director John Orcutt which overseas the Indian Ocean IDA
seismic stations confirmed that on December 26, the data pertaining to the Sumatra-Andaman quake had been "immediately
and automatically forwarded by computer to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in Golden, Colorado
and the NOAA tsunami warning centers in Hawaii and Alaska"The US Military Base at Diego
The first news reports underscored the fact that the US military base at Diego Garcia had been
given advanced warning, but that the information reached military officials at the US island naval base "after" the tsunami
had hit India and Sri Lanka:
"An NOAA log shows that the US Pacific Command, including Diego Garcia, was given a specific warning about
the tsunami some two and three quarter hours after the earthquake" (The Guardian, 7 Jan 2005)
These earlier reports must be qualified. The fact of the matter, is that the data concerning the earthquake originated
from monitoring stations situated in the Indian Ocean, including the The IDA/IRIS seismic station DGAR (Diego Garcia)
seismic station located directly on the site of the US island military base.
Moreover, in addition to the IDA/IRIS
stations, the International Monitoring System (IMS) of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
based in Vienna, operates several stations in the Indian Ocean region, three of which are located in the Chagos Archipelago
(British Indian Ocean Territory). Two of these stations are situated directly on the site of the US military base.
are in all four monitoring stations in the Chagos archipelago, which use the communications system of the US military base.
other words, the US military base at Diego Garcia
, with its advanced monitoring facilities, research labs, etc. was not the "recipient" but rather "the source" of the relevant
data regarding the earthquake.Satellite Imagery transmitted in Real Time
addition to real time seismic data (as well as hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide data transmitted out of Diego Garcia),
satellite images of the disaster on the North Sumatra coastline were also available in near real time to a number of agencies
and international organizations.
The US has an advanced "spy satellite" system, with very precise capabilities of monitoring
the terrain, including changes in the natural environment, not to mention moving objects. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)
, which was responsible for launching the first spy satellites of the Cold War era operates a sophisticated system of reconnaissance
satellites, which transmit imagery and other data in real time.
Another key US body, involved in satellite imagery
is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, (NGA)
, formerly known as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. The latter was in fact the architect of the global positioning
system (GPS), which was conducive to creating a system of global geospatial intelligence (GEOINT).NGA
is part of the US defense system, it serves the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. It has very precise
capabilities of monitoring the geographic and physical terrain by satellite, all over the world, using the techniques of geospatial
In other words, state of the art satellite imagery (available to military, intelligence, civilian
as well as private commercial entities) provides "a real time set of eyes". With regard, to the M-9.0 tsunami of December
26, satellite images were available almost immediately. The US military confirms in this regard, that it has access from its
satellite systems "to vital intelligence in real time". These real time images were used extensively in the Iraq and Afghan
war theaters. (Hearings of Sen Armed Services Committee, 25 Feb 2004).The Role of the European
Real time seismic and other data (including satellite imagery) were also available to
a number of countries including Russia, China, Japan and the European Union.
In this regard, The European Space Agency (ESA)
, which has links to NOAA, has "multi-sensor access" in real time to data from satellites including very precise imagery which
"for complete large-scale phenomena to be observed to an accuracy and entirety it would take an army of ground
level observers to match"
In addition to imagery, the satellite transmits other relevant data which measures very accurately "ground motion"
and "sea height":
While "before" and "after" images of the disaster have been made public, the images which show the
progress and movement of the tsunami, in the period immediately following the earth quake have not been released.Concluding Remarks: The Need for an Investigation into the Warning System
More than a quarter
of million people have died in one of the World's most devastating natural disasters.
The overriding issues pertaining
to the warning / information systems, cannot be drowned or brushed aside. They must be the object of a full-fledged inquiry,
preferably by an independent body.
This report has outlined a number of broad issues pertaining to the global information
network. The latter requires detailed examination in the context of full-fledged inquiry.
What agencies in the US,
the European Union, in the Indian Ocean countries and internationally were informed? The failures are by no means limited
to the US seismic network.
When were they informed? What type of data did they have? Some of that data has not been
Why did the information not reach the people on time in the countries affected by the tsunami?
factors, administrative, scientific or otherwise, contributed to preventing the information from being transmitted?
are not dealing strictly with seismic data. Satellite images of the devastation in Northern Sumatra were also available. Other
types of data were also transmitted in near real time by satellite.
The approximate speed of the seismic wave was known
and confirmed. According to the news reports, the tsunami was moving at a speed of roughly 20 km a minute (on average) in
relation to Sri Lanka.
The seismic information was known to the NEIC and other seismic centers within less than four
minutes after the quake.
The tsunami hit the Indonesian coast within 5 minutes, in other words 10 minutes before the
release of the first TPWC bulletin. Banda Aceh was hit by the tsunami 11 minutes after the earthquake, approximately 3 minutes
before the release of the TPWC bulletin.
In other words, it was possible to predict in a very precise way, at what
time the seismic wave would hit the coastlines of Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, The Maldives and Somalia. Had this information
been transmitted in a consistent fashion, there would have been ample time to evacuate people from the coastal areas of Sri
Lanka, India, not to mention the East coast of Africa.
There are no Ocean sensors in the Indian Ocean. But this was
not the cause of the failures and omissions in the warning system.
The tsunami became active immediately following
the earthquake. No warnings were sent out following the seismic readings despite the fact that the tsunami had already hit
the Indonesian coast.
This is the key issue.
The Tsunami was active, and this was known, corroborated not only
by seismic information but also by satellite images and other data, roughly 30 minutes prior to hitting Thailand.
Read the complete article with all essential links and charts included atGlobalResearch.ca
© Copyright Michel Chossudovsky, GlobalResearch.ca
Quotes from the article:
"The information on the quake was known and available in real time, to an entire network of seismic organizations.
It was also on hand and accessible to a number of government agencies both in the US and internationally, almost immediately.
Numerous officials, scientists, members of the military and intelligence services, had advanced knowledge of an impending
In other words, we are not dealing with the failures of a single warning Center in Ewo, Hawaii,
but with an entire Worldwide network of seismic information, satellite imagery and other sophisticated data, which was available
"... what efforts, if any, were made to contact those other nations in the region that were also in harm’s
way? If NOAA did not have the appropriate contacts, as has been reported, why was this the case? Was an attempt made to obtain
that contact information – and if not, why not? These are questions that must be answered.”
The Western media not only failed to address the failures in the warning system, they admonished those who raised the
In fact, any serious analysis of the warning system was dismissed outright.
NOTE: Today all mayor TV stations around the world report about the tsunami anniversary and they all have the same statement
Nobody could have predicted the catastrophe.
The above article proves that this statement is false.
More than a quater of a million victims really deserve something better.