Last week, Indonesia experienced a tsunami after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred near the island of Sulawesi. While the death toll is still rising, it currently stands at 844 people. Regardless of the viewpoint assumed, this event is incredibly sad and horrible.
However, I want to ask a question from my privileged, first-world, well-educated, wealthy-white-male perspective: Why are so many people in tsunami-prone areas ignorant of the danger present in the minutes and hours following an earthquake???
Tsunamis have been occurring for as long as the Earth has held enough water to form oceans, well before the appearance of land animals let alone human beings. After modern humans showed up on the scene, it did not take long for them to understand the danger tsunamis posed and when they were likely to occur. There are many examples from cultures around the planet which explain the danger of tsunamis. From folklore to proverbs, different cultures have used different mechanisms to teach their people about how to avoid tsunamis when they occur. Some of these warning are literally carved in stone. The point I am trying to make is that knowledge about tsunamis has been held for thousands of years, well before computers and modern communications.
If knowledge about tsunamis has been held and well-disseminated for thousands of years, why are hundreds of people killed by tsunamis when they occur? Why do these unfortunate people think that they do not need to avoid low-lying land after strong earthquakes? Do I hold a misunderstanding about just how well known tsunami danger is in developing countries?