struck Galle in 1883 says famed futurist writer
Describing last Sunday’s destruction as Lanka’s
Day After Tomorrow, Arthur C. Clarke sends SOS to the world and
calls for effective early-warning systems
PARIS - In an open letter sent to friends, among
them this writer, famed futurist and science fiction writer Arthur
C. Clarke, who is a fifty-year resident of Sri Lanka, reviewing
the situation in his country following last Sunday's tidal wave,
says how he described a similar phenomenon in his first book on
the country, The Reefs of Taprobane (1957). Above all he requests
that funds be sent to help Sri Lanka out of its precarious situation.
of "last Sunday's devastating tidal wave", Sir Arthur
notes that "I am enormously relieved that my family and household
have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts
of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction”.
others," he continues, "were not so fortunate. For over
two million Sri Lankans and a large number of foreign tourists holidaying
here, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare
reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow. My heart-felt sympathy goes
out to all those who lost family members or friends.”
those who directly experienced the waves, he says, "were my
staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa, and my holiday bungalows
in Kahawa and Thiranagama, all beachfront properties located in
southern areas that were badly hit. Our staff members are all safe,
even though some are badly shaken and relate harrowing first hand
accounts of what happened.
of our diving equipment and boats at Hikkaduwa were washed away.
We still don't know the full extent of damage -- it will take a
while for us to take stock as accessing these areas is still difficult."
is indeed," he affirms, "a disaster of unprecedented magnitude
for Sri Lanka, which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with
the aftermath. We are encouraging concerned friends to contribute
to the relief efforts launched by various national and international
is, he says, much to be done in both the short and long term for
Sri Lanka "to raise its head from this blow from the seas.
Among other things, the country needs to improve its technical and
communications facilities so that effective early warnings can help
minimise losses in future disasters".
enough, he notes, "in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written
about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter
8 in The Reefs of Taprobane, 1957). That happened in August 1883,
following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the
the Al-Qaeda attack on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, Sir
Arthur had been able to demonstrate at the time, that this attack
too had been prefigured in one of his dozens of works that are best
characterized as futuristic rather than science fiction as most
of his works are based on scientific documentation, indeed his own
discoveries, Arthur Clarke having been, as it's often forgotten,
the "inventor" of the telecommunications satellite in