Tsunami haunts Karachi – Balochistan shivers as well – Part II

Tsunami batters the “would-be-Pakistan”

Background

On 28 November 1945 at 1:56 am (local time), a massive earthquake, off Pakistan’s Makran Coast generated a destructive tsunami in the Northern Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Its epicenter was at 24.5 N 63.0 E., in the northern Arabian Sea, about 100 km south of Karachi and about 87 km SSW of Churi (Balochistan), Pakistan. The earthquake was of 8.1 magnitude, major quake.

Aftermath of the Tsunami and the earthquake

The tsunami hit just 2 years before the Great Partition

More than 4,000 people were killed along the Makran Coast of Pakistan by both the earthquake and the tsunami but most deaths were caused by the tsunami.

The tsunami reached a height of 17 metre  in some areas of the Makran coast and caused great damage to the entire coastal region of Pakistan. 12 to 15 m wave height was recorded in Ormara, near Gwadar. 

The earthquake was felt in Karachi too where ground motions lasted approximately 30 seconds, stopping the clock in the Karachi Municipality Building and interrupting the communication cable link between Karachi and Muscat (Oman). In Karachi the waves reached 3 metre high, first at 5:30 am, second at 7:00 am, third at 7:15 am and the fourth and the strongest at 8:15 am. The tsunami arrived from the direction of Clifton and Ghizri. There was no reported damage to the port and boats in the harbor of Karachi. However, at Keamari the waves flooded a couple of compounds along the harbor’s oil installations.

Subsequent eruptions of mud volcanoes in the Balochistan province formed four small islands in the province. The fishing village of Khudi and its entire population, 48  km west of Karachi, was swept away. At Dabo Creek, 12 fishermen were swept into the sea. At Pasni the waves destroyed government buildings rest houses and postal and telegraph facilities.

Other Asian counties effected by the 1945 tsunami 

The tsunami was responsible for loss of life and great destruction along the coasts of Iran, Oman and western India. In Mumbai the tsunami reached a height of 2 metre and 10 to 11 metre in the Indian state of Gujarat. 25 people were killed in India. The tsunami also caused great loss of life in the central Asian countries of Iran and Oman but no data is available.

Past Tsunami in the Arabian sea

Though Southern Asia is seismically active region in the world, tsunamis along the coastlines of Pakistan and India have been relatively rare, but not unprecedented. Destructive earthquakes and tsunamis have occurred in the North Arabian Sea throughout geologic history and in recent times. Most of these events have not been adequately documented. On the western side of India, the earthquakes of 1524 and 1819 in the Kutch region probably generated destructive tsunamis.

Oldest tsunami and Alexander’s fleet

Alexandar's fleet was washed away by the oldest tsunami of the Arabian sea

The oldest known tsunami in the region may have been generated by a large magnitude earthquake, which occurred in the Indus delta/Kutch region in 326 B.C.

It is believed that this earthquake generated a tsunami in the Arabian Sea, which destroyed Alexander the Great’s Macedonian fleet on its journey back to Greece after India’s conquest.

“Karachi is safe”, scientists say

Some scienties say that the geographical location of Karachi is such that a natural curve is formed near the sea shore, as a result, the possibility for a tsunami generated in Indian Ocean to hit the Karachi site is quite remote. They say similar things about a cyclone too, dry air from Arabian peninsula and Thar desert dissipates the cyclone before it could hit Karachi. But only time will tell if they were right or wrong.

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