web counter Media Lies: Satellite images of Sri Lanka

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

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Satellite images of Sri Lanka

You can view satellite images of Kalutara Beach, Sri Lanka and see the changes wrought by the tsunami. The power of nature is astounding - far beyond anything you can imagine.

Interestingly, NBC news this evening (local channel 5) implied that an entire section of housing had been wiped out, but if you view the images and compare the same reference points, you quickly realize that the tsunami has added tons of sand and material to the beach, extending it quite a way from where it was.

For example, compare these two images; before and after. In the right center area of the photos, you will find eight orange semi-circular objects just below what appears to be a large hotel with a swimming pool. You'll notice that all the buildings are still there in the after photo, but the beach is quite a bit larger. Rather than wiping clean a large swatch of buildings as the news reporter implied, the tsunami added a huge area of beach to the island.

These comments are not meant to imply that this wasn't an awful disaster. It was. And is. Tens of thousands of people died in a matter of minutes. Perhaps half of them were children. Yet even in this disaster, the news media can't seem to keep the facts straight, and they "err" in the direction of exaggeration. Considering there's no political agenda (or is there?) associated with this tragedy, how much less should we trust what we see with our own eyes on TV news when there is a political agenda?

UPDATE: Digitalglobe.com moved things around, so the pics I pointed to above no longer work. You now have to go to their site and download a pdf file that shows a series of before and after photos. My point about the damage on Kalutara Beach is still valid, however you should also view the pdf of damage to Banda Aceh.

When you look at those you will see extensive damage including entire portions of the landmass that have disappeared. It's no wonder that Indonesia is now reporting more than 80,000 dead just in Indonesia. The extent of the tragedy is well beyond my comprehension. In some areas one out of every four residents are gone.