A LOOK BACK: The devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami
JAKARTA, Indonesia – On Sunday, December 26, 2004 at 7:58 am local time, a massive earthquake measuring 9.3 struck off Indonesia, unleashing a devastating tsunami which left more than 220,000 dead.
The strength of the quake – the biggest in the world since 1964 – was such that the Earth shifted – unleashing a multi-meter wave which 30 minutes later devastated the Indonesian province of Aceh, to the north of Sumatra.
Aceh was the most affected region: dozens of villages were wiped from the map and the strength of the tsunami went so far as to shift the islands. An estimated 131,000 died on the west coast of Sumatra.
The wave also swept the whole of the Indian Ocean's shoreline, hitting the coasts of Sri Lanka, India – especially the Andaman and Nicobar islands – Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Maldives and Bangladesh.
Around 6 hours after the start of the disaster the coasts of East Africa – Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya – were reached by the tidal wave.
In the space of several hours at least 220,000 people died, of which nearly 170,000 were in Indonesia, 31,000 in Sri Lanka, 16,400 in India, and 5,400 in Thailand, according to an official count.
Two hundred people were killed in other Asian countries hit by the wave, while 300 perished in East Africa.
The entire international community was affected by the disaster. Out of the 5,400 casualties in Thailand, nearly half were foreigners representing 37 nationalities.
European countries, including Sweden (543 dead), Germany (537), Finland (180), Britain (150), Switzerland (110), France (95), Denmark (50) and Norway (80), lost 1,700 people, mainly tourists seeking Christmas sun.
The deadly waves particularly hit the young, but several thousand children found themselves orphans too, while tens of thousands suffered from psychological problems.
There was countless material damage and more than one million people were left homeless.
The tsunami ravaged the Indian Ocean coastline's ecosystem, including Aceh's mangroves and Thailand's coral reef, and unleashed chemical pollution.
Record amounts were collected in aid for the victims, with more than $13.5 billion (11 billion euros) donated, representing more than $7,100 for each person affected by the tsunami. – Rappler.com
Rappler Indonesia is running a series of photo essays and features throughout the month of December to mark the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
- IN PHOTOS: When the tsunami devastated Aceh
- IN PHOTOS: Coming to Aceh's aid
- IN PHOTOS: Rebuilding a city swept away by a tsunami
- 10 years on: The photographer who documented the tsunami
- 10 years on: The boat that rescued 59 during the tsunami
- How the 2004 tsunami brought peace to Aceh
- Love in a time of disaster: Moving on after the tsunami