The Boxing Day ( 26 December 2004 ) TSUNAMI killed over 230,000 people
in 13 Asian Countries and is believed to be deadliest tsunami in history.
It began at 7:59am local time on December 26, 2004,
when a 9.3 magnitude quake struck off the northern tip of Sumatra in Indonesia.
Scientists say the earthquake was the third-biggest ever recorded,
lasting up to 10 minutes and causing the Earth to vibrate up to one centimetre.
It also displaced an estimated 30 cubic kilometres of water, unleashing a massive tsunami across the Indian Ocean.
The violent movement of the Earth’s tectonic plates displaced an enormous amount of water, sending powerful shock waves in every direction.
The tectonic plates in this area had been pushing against each other and building pressure for thousands of years.
They continue to do so and will likely cause underwater earthquakes and tsunamis in the future.
The rupture was more than 600 miles long, displacing the seafloor by 10 yards horizontally and several yards vertically.
As a result, trillions of tons of rock moved, causing the largest magnitude earthquake in 40 years.
Within 15 minutes of the earthquake, waves began striking the coasts of northern Sumatra and the Nicobar islands.
Waves of up to 30 metres were recorded as the tsunami swept through Aceh, the hardest hit region of Indonesia.
Some locations reported that the waves had reached a height of 30 feet (9 metres) or more when they hit the shoreline.
Around two hours after the earthquake struck, waves reached Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.
An hour later they reached the Maldives, and more than seven hours after the initial quake, the tsunami was observed in Mauritius and along the east coast of Africa. Its effects were seen as far away as Antarctica and North America. Indonesia was the nation hardest hit by the tsunami, with at least 168,000 people killed when walls of water smashed into Nias island and Aceh province, which sits on the northern end of Sumatra. In Sri Lanka 35,000 people were killed, while 18,000 died in India and 8,000 died in Thailand. Tsunamis can extend inland by a thousand feet (300 meters) or more. The enormous force and weight of so much water sweeps away almost everything in its path. As many as a third of the people who died in the Indian Ocean tsunami were children; many of them would not have been strong enough to resist the force of the water. Many people were crushed by debris or when the sea hurled them against structures. Witnesses said the approaching tsunami sounded like many freight trains or the roar of a jet. In some places the tsunami advanced as a torrent of foaming water. In several places the tsunami announced itself in the form of a rapidly receding ocean. Survivors say how they had never seen the sea withdraw such a distance, exposing seafloor never seen before, stranding fish and boats on the sand. Survivors of the Indian Ocean tsunami reported that the sea surged out as fast and as powerfully as it came ashore. Many people who had survived the wall of water rushing inland were seen being swept out to sea when the ocean retreated. A tsunami is a series of waves, and the first wave may not be the most dangerous. A tsunami "wave train" may come as surges five minutes to an hour apart. The cycle may be marked by repeated retreat and advance of the ocean. Some people did not know this on December 26. Once the first wave had gone, they thought it was safe to go down to the beach. The Indian Ocean tsunami destroyed thousands of miles of coastline and even submerged entire islands permanently. The island country Maldives rises only a few feet above sea level, but it is largely protected by outlying coral reefs. Even so, the tsunami swept across the reefs and was reported to have washed over some islands entirely.The capital and many tourist resorts in the Maldives were flooded. Astonishingly, relatively few people were killed. The country was likely protected from the full force of the tsunami by its reefs. As the day of horror drew to a close the ocean calmed. But where at the start of the day people were going about their normal lives or relaxing at exotic beach resorts now millions of people were struggling with the reality of tens of thousands of dead or missing relatives, destroyed homes, and shattered lives. The thousands of corpses, many hanging in trees or washed up on beaches, immediately started to rot in the tropical heat. With no food or clean water and open wounds, the risk of famine and epidemic diseases was high. The tsunami killed at least 230,000 people across a dozen countries, with Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, and Thailand sustaining massive damage. Indonesian officials estimated that the death toll there alone ultimately exceeded 200,000, particularly in northern Sumatra’s Aceh province. Tens of thousands were reported dead or missing in Sri Lanka and India, a large number of them from the Indian Andaman and Nicobar Islands territory. The low-lying island country of Maldives reported more than a hundred casualties and immense economic damage. Thousands–most likely swept out to sea–will never be found. It has been reported that one third of the victims were children, due to both the region’s demographics and children’s relative inability to protect themselves. The tsunami also killed more women than men, a statistic that is chalked up to the fact that more men may have been working out at sea in deep water, where they were safer. In addition to natives of the region, an estimated 9,000 people from outside the area, mainly Europeans, were killed while on vacation at the region’s resorts. The lack of food, clean water, and medical treatment combined with the enormous task faced by relief workers trying to get supplies into some remote areas where roads had been destroyed or where civil war raged extended the list of casualties. Long-term damage was severe as well, with villages, tourist resorts, farmland, and fishing grounds demolished or inundated with debris, bodies, and salt water.
These interactive images below reveal how some of the places affected by the disaster look NOW and BEFORE the Tsunami .