Monday, June 09, 2008

A tragedy over Gulf of Guinea

I was away last week to attend this year's WISE 2008 meeting in Helsinki, Finland. There were plenty of news that happened during the last few days I couldn't care less. This following tragic news from Galway News last week couldn't depress me more:

THE heartbroken family of the Galway woman killed by a freak wave in Ghana this week spoke of a daughter with loads of dreams and ambition - and a big heart.

Natalie Higgins had only been in West Africa for nine days, fulfilling her dream of working at an orphanage as a volunteer.

But there was disbelief when news filtered through at the weekend that the 24 year old from Abbeyknockmoy had been swept to her death by a freak wave.

Natalie had been in Ghana for just nine days doing voluntary work in an orphanage
when she and a number of colleagues went on a trip to the coast on Saturday.

Apparantly they were walking along the edge of the water, washing the sand from their feet, when an undercurrent swept them out to sea. Two were rescued but efforts to save Natalie were not successful and her body was later recovered from the sea.

All I can think of dreadfully is "It happened again!" This time in the northwest part of the Gulf of Guinea. Same kind of stories happened time and again in different parts of the world ocean. So sad, so unnecessary, and so unexpectedly. Other than the heartbroken family, local beach officials and coast guards, not that many people seem to care. So it just a freaque wave, an undercurrent of some sort, some lip service, and another tragic case filed.

Can someone doing something about it? There are tons of research fundings threw at people worrying about 0.1 degree increase in temperature 100 years from now. But no one has given any effort even trying to consider some aspect of the elusive nearshore and onshore freaque waves around the world.

Yes, I walked along the beach bordering the Baltic Sea last week and enjoyed it tremendously. It was serene, tranquil and peaceful as always. But I did wondering what if there is a sudden freaque wave rushing in. Thank God there wasn't one. No one know when or where it will happen, but it will happen some time, somewhere, somehow. Research is needed, but save lives is not reason enough for academics and research community to do research on?

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