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Sumatra Island Tsunami Wave Photograph Hoax

Outline
Email claims that an attached photograph shows a residential area in Sumatra about to be engulfed by a gigantic tsunami wave.



Brief Analysis
The photograph does not depict a tsunami wave nor was it taken in Sumatra. In fact, the "wave" shown in the photograph is a large dust storm that hit the town of Griffith, NSW Australia in 2002.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



Last updated: 8th May 2010
First published: 5th December 2007
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example:(Submitted, December 2007)
1/2 a second before tsunami

Dust storm 'Tsunami' wave

1/2 a second before tsunami

The last picture! There are people who believe in God, there are others who don't believe, but we must understand that we are small when nature hits...

This picture was taken on the banks of Sumatra Island (the height of waves was of approx. 32 m = 105 ft). It was found saved in a digital camera, 1 1/2 years after the disaster.

We cannot know for sure, but very likely the one who took the picture is not alive any more (it was just a matter of seconds). Today we can see the last image he/ she saw before ending life on Earth!




Detailed Analysis
According to this message, an attached photograph depicts a street in Sumatra just before it was inundated by a gigantic wave from the tsunami that hit Indonesia in 2004. The message claims that the image was recovered from a digital camera found at the scene more than a year after the disaster, presumably taken just moments before the photographer lost his or her life to the wave.

The photograph is certainly a compelling one. However, it does not show a tsunami wave nor was it taken in Sumatra. The description that comes with the image is pure nonsense. In fact, the photograph shows a massive dust storm that hit the town of Griffith, NSW Australia on November 13 2002.

The photograph is featured as part of a Sydney Morning Herald news article that was re-posted on the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website in November 2002. The photograph includes the following caption:
The residents of Griffith rushed to seal their houses at dusk yesterday as a fierce dust storm raced into the town with warning, propelled by winds of up to 90 kilkometres (sic) an hour. The dust cloud moved across the state and into Sydney today. Photo: Denis Couch
The original photograph has a date stamp of "12.11.2002" (November 12, 2002). The prankster who launched this hoax apparently removed the date stamp because it would have immediately destroyed the illusion that the photograph was taken during the 2004 tsunami.

Griffith Dust Storm 2002

The Sydney Morning Herald article notes that dust spread through large areas of NSW at the time and enveloped other towns as well as Griffith, including Dubbo, Orange, Nowra, Sydney and the Blue Mountains. The archived version of the same article substitutes a different photograph obviously showing the same storm from a different vantage point.

Another Sydney Morning Herald article about the storm notes:
The residents of Griffith rushed to seal their houses at dusk yesterday as a fierce dust storm raced into the town without warning, propelled by winds of up to 90 kilometres an hour.

Rolling in from the south west after a scorching day of 36C, homes were engulfed by the cloud which turned the sky pitch black.

The storm cloud was three kilometres from the town when this photograph was taken by local electrical engineer Denis Couch. Within five minutes it reached his home and simply took over, the winds spreading gritty dust around for an hour.

"I've seen dust storms but I don't think I've ever seen anything as exotic as that," Mr Couch said. Griffith had "just under an inch" of rain almost two months ago, and nothing since, he added.
The site of this encroaching "wave" would have certainly been a spectacular and somewhat frightening site to behold, but thankfully for the residents of Griffith, it was a wave of dust, not water.

Nonsensical hoaxes such as this one dishonour the memory of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives in the 2004 Asian tsunami. Please do not forward it to others.

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References
Front brings dust from the west - BOM Version
14 November 2002: Griffith dust-storm on the 12th
Front brings dust from the west - SMH
Dust cloud rolls into town, turning a scorching day into night

Last updated: 8th May 2010
First published: 5th December 2007
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

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