Guy Carpenter’s report, Tsunami: Indian Ocean Event and Investigation into Potential Global Risks, presents some staggering statistics about the Sumatra earthquake and subsequent tsunamis that struck Asia last December:

  • 300,000 missing or dead.
  • 800,000 homeless.
  • 500,000 lost livelihoods.

The report not only dissects the human devastation, but also examines the extent of damage and the economic impact for each country affected by one of the worst natural disasters ever recorded, in terms of loss of life.

An analysis of the natural forces behind the tsunami also is provided, which includes convergent fault lines, such as those present at the site of the earthquake. Because the Pacific and Indian Oceans have a high percentage of convergent faults, tsunami occurrence is more common, with more than 80 percent of all tsunamis taking place in that region. The Pacific, alone, accounts for three out of four. Besides earthquakes, tsunamis also may be caused by volcanic activity, landslides, meteors, and man-made explosions.

The possibility of another tsunami’s hitting not only the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, but other global locations, is examined as well. An analysis of the steps being taken to mitigate those risks mentions the International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System, an assembly of 26 countries that works to identify possible tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean. It seeks to provide warnings and estimated arrival times for those living in at-risk areas.

With tsunamis’ traveling at speeds of up to 620 mph and being able to cross the entire Pacific Ocean in 24 hours, issuing accurate alerts is a tall task to ask for a system that has yet to be fully implemented. Even with advance warning, nothing can prevent the large-scale property destruction or limit insurance liability in vulnerable areas, the report cautions, but, with adequate warning, perhaps human tragedy can be alleviated.

The full report is available at