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Asia-Pacific Region Copes with Natural Disasters, Loss of Tourism

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Flooded benchNatural disasters have devastated the Asia-Pacific region in the past week and reminded everyone of the perils facing those located along the Ring of Fire.

In Samoa and the Philippines, residents and relief workers are continuing their clean-up efforts after being hit by a tsunami and flood respectively. Meanwhile, excavators are clearing the debris and rubble caused by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia.

Scientists have dismissed the idea that there is a seismic connection to these catastrophes, but will they have a similar impact on tourism?

Indonesia

Last week’s earthquake severely damaged more than 180,000 buildings and killed nearly a thousand people on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Tourists are among those still missing or presumed dead.

Padang, the capital of the province of West Sumatra, was the city hardest hit by the quake. Padang is a popular spot for tourists looking for an access point to the surf sites of the Mentawai Islands and Bungus Bay.

Check out our original story on the disaster: Powerful Indonesia Earthquake Wreaks More Havoc in Pacific Region

Earthquake DamageOfficials expect the recovery process to be slow and difficult. Hospitals are currently treating patients in tents with faulty medical equipment due to storm damage to the buildings. The offices of many construction companies were damaged as well, hindering their ability to begin reconstruction efforts.

As residents try to get back on their feet, scientists studying nearby fault lines say the worst could still be on the way.

Geologist Danny Hilman Natawidjaja of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences has been studying activity along the Mentawai fault for 20 years, and he predicts that it could soon erupt in a massive 8.8 to 8.9 magnitude earthquake.

Philippines

Filipino flagTyphoon Parma may have spared the Philippines capital of Manila, but the city is still reeling from the floods caused by earlier typhoons.

Last month, Typhoon Ketsana caused an estimated $30 million in damage, killing 100 and leaving most of the city underwater.

Manila serves as the main travel hub for those visiting the Philippines. With the city still dealing with flood-related problems, many travelers are choosing to wait out the typhoon season, which typically slows down around November.

Samoan Islands

The tsunami triggered by an 8.0 magnitude earthquake last week killed 165 people in the Samoan Islands. Residents are still working to dig their belongings out of the mud and debris.

Check out our update on the Samoan Islands disaster: Post-Tsunami Recovery Efforts Begin In the Samoan Islands.

Samoa has become an increasingly popular destination for surfers. Apia, the capital of Samoa, is a popular docking spot for pleasure sailors in the region. However, the recent natural disasters will likely cause surfers and sailors to head for calmer waters.

Even though these regions may see a decline in surfers and tourists, this is an excellent time lend a helping hand on your travels. If you would like to learn more about how you can help, make sure you check out our section on voluntourism.

By Dan Bence for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related Links: The Jakarta Post, News.com.au, CNN, Gadling

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