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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 81

Illegal Destruction of Coral Reefs Worsened Tsunami Impact:

[b]Illegal Destruction of Coral Reefs Worsened Tsunami Impact: Sri Lankan Researcher in U.S. Discloses[/b]

Daya Gamage – US Correspondent to Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 25 August ( Sri Lanka born, internationally recognized expert on ocean waves, Professor Harindra Fernando of Arizona State University in the United States, who was in his native Sri Lanka in early 2005 to research the impact of last December tsunami, disclosed that illegal coral mining off the southwest coast allowed far more onshore destruction than occurred in nearby areas whose coral reefs were intact.

Lead author of the research project Fernando reported that in the town of Peraliya, a 10-meter wave swept 1.5 kilometers inland, carrying a passenger train about 50 meters off its tracks. The death toll in Peraliya was 1,700.

Three kilometers south, in Hikkaduwa, the wave height was just two to three meters, traveled only 50 meters inland and caused no deaths.

This inundation pattern was not related to coastline features such as headlands, bays and river channels, according to Prof. Harindra Fernando’s research study. The key factor was the presence or absence of coral and rock reefs offshore.

Geological Survey, National Science Foundation and Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, all of the United States, and the BBC, which produced a documentary on tsunami, funded the research team, led by Fernando.

Harindra Fernando, who studied at St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, obtained his B.Sc. 1st Class honors in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sri Lanka in 1979. He earned his Masters and Ph.D. in fluid mechanics from the Johns Hopkins University in US and joined as a research assistant in the same university. From 84-88, he was Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Arizona State University, 88-92 Associate Professor, and was made a full professor in 1992.

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