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December 19, 2014 - SOURCE ALERT: Expert from USC Tsunami Research Center Available to Discuss 10th Anniversary of 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami

Press Release
Contact: Robert Perkins - 213-740-9226 or perkinsr@usc.edu
December 19, 2014 —


On Dec. 26, 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck Sumatra, Indonesia, triggering a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries.

Jose Borrero, adjunct assistant research professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Tsunami Research Center, flew to the damaged zone less than two weeks after the tsunami struck.

"I was the first foreign scientist to reach the disaster area and my photo collection is the only set of photos (that I know of) from before any significant cleanup had taken place," Borrero said. "Nothing in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) prepared me for what I saw in Banda Aceh."

He has uploaded those photos from his damage survey, which may be used by the press with the credit “Jose Borrero / USC.”


Borrero describes his experience surveying Banda Aceh, which was one of the first areas hit by the tsunami:

I was working alone, trying to survey and document an incomprehensibly large disaster area. As I surveyed the area, I would regularly come across bodies in the piles of debris while at the same time, recovery teams were filling dump trucks with body bags.

My reports from 'ground zero' were the first to bring the scale of the disaster out to the tsunami research and mainstream scientific community. As it turned out, surveys of the 2004 event continued across the Indian Ocean for the better part of 2005 with teams visiting and collecting data from every country on the shores of the Indian Ocean.

Since then, what was a fringe discipline in earth science and engineering has gone totally mainstream and the global awareness of this phenomenon has increased significantly (which is a good thing).

Over the past decade, Borrero has studied the effects of “surprise” tsunamis in Indonesia and El Salvador. He has also studied the effects of tsunamis on ports and harbors – in particular, the strong and chaotic currents formed by tsunami surges and the impact on port activities in California and New Zealand.

Borrero is in Los Angeles until Saturday. He can be best be reached by email jborrero@usc.edu or jose@ecoast.co.nz.

About the USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Engineering Studies began at the University of Southern California in 1905. Nearly a century later, the Viterbi School of Engineering received a naming gift in 2004 from alumnus Andrew J. Viterbi and his wife Erna. Viterbi is the inventor of the Viterbi algorithm, now key to cell phone technology and numerous data applications. Consistently ranked among the top graduate programs in the world, the school enrolls more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students, taught by more than 174 tenured and tenure-track faculty, with 60 endowed chairs and professorships. http://viterbi.usc.edu

Robert Perkins - (213) 740-9226 or perkinsr@usc.edu