Early yesterday morning as I fed the kids' uniforms into the washing machine, I watched Seconds from Disaster at the National Geographic Channel. The program talked about the earthquake that rocked Kobe, Japan in 1995. The quake was violent, the program said, because the fault the city was sitting on turned out to be linked with yet another fault both at sea and the land on the southwest. What irony, too, that roofs of traditional Japanese village houses were responsible for the extent of the casualties. These roofs were precisely made heavy to withstand storms. But the quake caused the traditional houses, supported by narrow posts and burdened by disproportionately heavy roofs, to collapse.
On the same channel earlier last week, another program talked about the 1960 quake, magnitude 9.5, that devastated Chile. The program explained that the earthquake was so strong -- indeed the worst in history -- because Chile sat on the fault between two massive tectonic plates. The pressure built up over hundreds of years and then snapped. The program also said that the possibility of the same event happening again is not remote altogether.
These were my thoughts as I turned on the tv to watch CNN last night. Breaking News, I saw, a magnitude 8.8 quake rocked Concepcion, Chile. Concepcion is the second largest city in the country.
How soon can a tragedy occur again? Fifty years since the last one in Chile. A little more than a month after the one in Haiti. The tsunami warnings in the last 24 hours have been scary. Indeed, the ground is not as steady anymore. For a while you feel relieved that it's not you and you are only watching the tragedy from your television set. The really sobering thing is the knowledge that the next time around, this could happen where you are.
And then you stop taking things for granted.