Editorial: Indonesia quake would cripple us here

Editorial: Indonesia quake would cripple us here

You could even be forgiven for not having heard of it at all.

You could be forgiven for not knowing that much about the latest deadly earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia.

You could even be forgiven for not having heard of it at all. The news has been surprisingly low-key about this quake, which has devastated the island of Sulawesi.

The earthquake was bad enough, a magnitude 7.5. But the following six-metre tsunami made things even worse, and now officials are burying the dead in mass graves the numbers are so overwhelming: more than 800 so far, with tallies expected to reach into the thousands. As the days go by, rescue efforts for people trapped under the rubble are turning into recovery missions.

Sometimes there’s no good rhyme or reason as to why a particular tragedy becomes a cause célèbre, while another distant disaster creates barely a ripple on the global consciousness. In North America, the new NAFTA (USMCA) is taking up a lot of oxygen in the media as the work week begins.

Maybe it’s because this didn’t affect a popular tourist destination, like the 2004 quake and tsunami that was also centred off the coast of Indonesia, but sent deadly waves flooding into Thailand, where many westerners were soaking up the sun in seaside resorts. To be fair, that disaster was far deadlier than this one to date, killing hundreds of thousands, rather than just thousands. But imagine, if you can, a crowd of 1,000 people. Even the smaller number here is massive, and devastating.

And here we are, part of that same ring of fire around the Pacific where we are warned the Big One could strike at any time. Seeing the results of quakes like this latest one in Indonesia that aren’t strong enough to warrant the capitalization is incredibly sobering. We seem woefully unprepared for such an eventuality. A 7.5 magnitude quake and a tsunami on our Canadian coast, let alone something bigger, would cripple us.

Maybe it won’t make a difference if you’ve equipped an earthquake box with some necessities to get you through the immediate aftermath, but maybe it will. It’s worth the effort.