Shake, Rattle and Roll

Location of earthquakes

You may have seen in the news that there were three major earthquakes in Indonesia in the past 24 hours. They were under the ocean floor just off the coast of the island of Sumatra near the city of Bengkulu (used to be known as Bencoolen in the old British and Dutch colonial days). Indonesia gets a lot of earthquakes, especially off the south coast of Sumatra. This one was unusual for us in that it was felt pretty strongly in Singapore. In fact, I felt it!

The epicenter of the earthquakes were about 500 miles away from Singapore - not exactly close. The first one occurred on Wednesday evening (local time), the second early Thursday morning and the third about noon on Thursday. The first one did quite a bit of damage to buildings in cities along the coast and even killed a few people. There were also fears of a tsunami. The western tip of Sumatra was one of the hardest hit of all areas by the great tsunami of 2004. Over 100,000 people were killed on the island. Tsunami warnings went out after each of the quakes, but only one village very close to the quake location was hit by a tsunami. Although a 10 foot wave caused tremendous damage, there was not loss of life. As soon as the water started to pull back from the shore, the villagers all recognized it as the sign of an approaching tsunami and went to high ground. You have to feel sorry for the people in Indonesia. There is a very active fault line just south of Sumatra. Geologists predict that it is just a matter of time before a really large earthquake causes another major tsunami that will wipe out a city along the coast. But most of the people are poor and don't have any where to go.

Whew! Looks like Singapore is still standing.

Even though the earthquakes were not close to Singapore, for some reason these were felt quite strongly here. This was actually the first time that I had ever been in an earthquake. I missed the big 1984 earthquake in Idaho because I was visiting England at the time. And even though I lived in the Bay Area for two years going to school and traveled there many times with hp, I never felt anything there. But this morning I was up early and working on my computer. Sandy had left for work a little while before. I felt a very strange sensation that I really can't describe, more like being dizzy than feeling like I was moving. I had just seen a tv documentary a few days ago on the construction of the Petronas Towers (formerly tallest building in the world) in Kuala Lampur. One of the engineers was talking about how easy it was to feel a tall building sway when you were high up. Ok, we're not that high - only the twelfth floor. But right away I thought of that. The building is swaying! After about 10 seconds I ran into the kitchen and poured some water into a container to see if I could notice the water moving. But by then it had stopped. I have to admit that it was really weird.

Most of the news here was about the damage in Indonesia of course. But I did find stuff on the web, blogs and such, with a lot of people in Singapore commenting on feeling the quake. What surprised me was how many people mentioned feeling dizzy. Strange. I never would have expected that but that's how it felt. It probably would be different at ground level but of course most of the people here live in high rise apartments. There is even a video taken by a 12 year old girl in Singapore that got posted on CNN's local site. It wasn't that bad in our apartment!