The news coming from Asia about the amount of destruction caused by a tsunami is staggering. Slate had this bit of information this morning:

The Los Angeles Times online initially used the term “tidal waves” (as did TP), but as the Wall Street Journal explains in a tsunami Q&A, these waves weren’t caused by tides. Rather, Sunday’s tsunami was spawned when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the worst in 40 years, ruptured the sea floor deep below the Indian Ocean. An Italian scientist says the earthquake was so powerful that it disturbed the Earth’s rotation.

The last sentence is particularly amazing. And a few other interesting, and shocking, notes:

As the WP points out in a separate article, the tragedy could have been attenuated by early-warning systems like the ones that exist for the Pacific Ocean. After the earthquake, it took the tsunami an hour to get to Thailand and 2.5 hours to get to India and Sri Lanka. American officials wanted to warn the countries but had no way of doing so. Moving people a mere three hundred yards inland could have saved thousands of lives.