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Why Didn’t the Tsunami Hit Singapore & Australia?

By Murray Bourne, 03 Jan 2005

The 26th Dec 2004 tsunami had no effect here in Singapore - we didn't feel the earthquake, either.

Singapore is at the south-eastern end of the Strait of Melaka. This narrow body of water would funnel the energy of a tsunami and increase the wave's speed and force. But lucky for us, this didn't happen.

Similarly, considering that Australia is closer to Aceh than India or Africa, it is surprising that the effects of the tsunami were not felt in Western Australia.

The simulation in the New York Times interactive showed the waves going West, East and North, but losing power to the south. This was because the fault line was in a roughly north-west/south-east direction and most of the energy was dissipated at right angles to the fault line, as can be seen in this screen shot from the simulation:


The tsunami did not affect the Strait of Melaka or Singapore because the epicentre was on the southern side of Sumatra.

However, there has been disturbing news from Thai seismologist, Dr Smith Dharmasaroja, that the epicentre for future earthquakes is likely to be further north than before. If the next epicentre is near the Nicobar Islands, then we will need to batten down the hatches here in Singapore...

See the 17 Comments below.

17 Comments on “Why Didn’t the Tsunami Hit Singapore & Australia?”

  1. Tang Kim Seng says:

    I may sound a bit out of context when I say this, but this whole incident jotted me to bring up a question which was discussed during my religious studies. The question was "Are people born into different parts of this world by coincidence ?" I mean, how does one explain why fortunate people are born in blessed countries like Singapore or Australia, protected from natural disasters, etc. but the not so fortunate ones are born in countries with many disasters ? Of course, let's discount those who happened to be at the wrong place and at the wrong time. Is it therefore a chance game or some mysterious forces working behind the scene ? Thought provoking, eh ?

  2. ggd says:

    i think that the fact that the tsunami was a natural disaster determines where the water actually went.

  3. Murray says:

    ?? What does that mean, ggd?

  4. David says:

    look at

  5. hartfang says:

    I have been trying to get this off my chest.

    My mother had a dream that in future Singapore will be hit by a powerful earthquake followed by tsunami. She was so horrified that she sold the HDB flat and immediately buy a house at Johor so that the family will have a slight chance of survival. I did not believe her but in the end she is an old woman and I still had to follow her and look after her in Johor. I had to quit my job. It has been 2 yrs now, with no PR but only using normal passports, me, my younger sister and my mother have been going in and out of Johor every two weeks. My poor father was hit the worst by this as he still keeping his job in Singapore but went back home in Johor. I and my sister still looking for a job.

  6. Murray says:

    Hi Hartfang and thanks for sharing the story.

    Good luck with your job hunting!

  7. lol says:

    i dont want to be rude but all these explanation for the topic of why didnt tsunami hit australia and singapore. these explanations did not fit the topic tiny bit, dont get the topic please dont add comments! i like to hear all the nice stories but also want to know the real facts.

  8. laughing with agreement says:

    gees i agree with u lol because i'm also trying to find out the true not blah blah stories, and also like to share i had a dream that tsunami will hit my house too!!

  9. Murray says:

    Hi lol

    Well, the answer for why it didn't hit Singapore is in the post (the quake struck the West side of Sumatra and Singapore is on the East side, so it was protected by Sumatra). I included Australia in the title because at the time, it was a surprise that the tsunami traveled all the way to India and Africa, but not the shorter distance to Australia. But as the post said, the main direction the tsunami went was West, not South,

  10. Murray says:

    Hello "laughing with agreement"

    I can see from your IP address that you are the same person as "lol". Do you often agree with yourself like this?

  11. charles says:

    i talk to a girl that lives over in singapore and i was wondering if she was ok and did she get hit by the tsunami. my condolences go out to anyone affected by this catastrophic event

  12. SG says:

    OLD news.

  13. Murray says:

    @SG: Yes, as the first sentence of the article indicates, this article refers to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, not the one yesterday in the Pacific Ocean, a result of the Japan earthquake.

  14. JT says:

    Hi HartFang ,
    Johore is a very nice place to live unlike Singapore surrounded by flats.Tell your Mum that her dream was actually a warning from heaven.But even JB will not be spared!
    Relax, dont panic because it won't happen so soon.

  15. David says:

    I would like to add that the Tsunami was felt in Western Australia .
    My family and were fishing in Kalbari at a place called Wittacarra creek on the coast - high tide was meant to be at 5.45 pm on the 24 of December and I noticed the tide went out further than I had ever seen before ( I have fished here over 100 times over the years ) like 30 -40 metres out and I saw the ocean floor , I thought that I had got the tide times wrong.
    Five to ten minutes after that the tide came in and a series of waves pushed up over the sand ridges knocking my bait bucket over and I moved my car back further from the water ( ten metres ) but more waves kept coming in pushing up the beach further.
    I became concerned and told my family to pack up as this was not normal and I was now getting worried.
    We drove back into town and got some dinner , at about 9pm we saw a news report of the disaster and I was sure what we had witnessed was part of the disaster.
    My kids laughed and said no way it could not have reached us here.
    I returned to the beach that night at about 11 pm to check it out and noticed that there was a lot of damage to the beach all the way back to the dunes which are about 40 metres from the water. I was not able to drive along the beach as I could before due to the state of the sand.
    We were not the only ones on the beach that evening - there was another family fishing with a couple of young children sitting on a blanket when a series of waves pushed up to them sending them floating up the beach - it seemed funny at the time but that was when I started noticing the not so high tide and waves pushing up to us and decided to leave.

  16. Murray says:

    @David: Thanks for the personal story, David.

  17. David says:

    Like to apologies on my earlier post - I put the wrong date in as we were on the beach on the 26 of December - typo mistake.

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