RESCURERS found another four bodies by noon today from the Chien Tang River after a freak wave washed away 33 people on Friday in Zhejiang Province. So far, 12 bodies have been recovered.A freaque wave washed away 33 people is a major disaster. What I think that the freak wave alluded in this news is really an abnormal tidal bore which the Chien Tang River is well known of. Most Chinese born and grown up in Mainland China are probably heard, at one time or other, about the Chien Tang River tidal bore. I remember reading in the elementary school books that "the mouth of Chien Tang River is like a funnel" -- which is what makes it the most famous site of tidal bore in the world. It is certainly not a new phenomenon. In the 1969 book "Fluid Mechanics - A concise introduction to the theory" by the late Prof. Chia-shun Yih, he included, behind the front page, this rare ancient painting of tidal bore on the Chien Tang River by Li Sung (1166-1243):
Here's a more recent picture of the place:
As this morden picture is more real and down to earthe and less poetic, that pagoda building could be the same one seen by the ancient artist and the morden photographer even though they are almost 800 years apart. Nevertheless this newer picture does show that the incoming bore is capable of veering into the stand and swept out bystanders. What is not clear, however, is that tidal bore is generally fully predictable. That's why people usually waiting there to see the bore coming in at calculated times. Would it be possible that freaque waves can also lurk behind a regular bore and strick unexpectedly? Well, from what had happened there yesterday it is certainly not out of the question. Predictable or otherwise, one just can not take anything happening or not happening in this world for granted!