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This Day in History: 12/26/2004 - Tsunami hits Southeast Asia

This Day in History: 12/26/2004 - Tsunami hits Southeast Asia

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Bugsy Siegel, a millionaire, opened a hotel on December 26, 1946 in Las Vegas called the Pink Flamingo Hotel and Casino. With its casino and many different shows, like Frank Sinatra, many people visited the hotel, giving rise to the expression above. December 26th is of importance for several other reasons. It is on this day, in 1825 that the Erie Canal is officially opened, and the first time William Shakespeare's King Lear is performed in 1606. In addition, Kwanza was first celebrated on December 26, 1966. To learn more, watch the This Day in History video: December 26th.


The Causation of the Casualties

Altogether, an estimated 230,000 to 260,000 people died in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. The quake itself was third-most powerful since 1900, exceeded only by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 (magnitude 9.5), and the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Prince William Sound, Alaska (magnitude 9.2) both of those quakes also produced killer tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean basin. The Indian Ocean tsunami was the most deadly in recorded history.

Why did so many people die on December 26, 2004? Dense coastal populations combined with a lack of tsunami-warning infrastructure came together to produce this horrific result. Since tsunamis are much more common in the Pacific, that ocean is ringed with tsunami-warning sirens, ready to respond to information from the tsunami-detection buoys arrayed across the area. Although the Indian Ocean is seismically active, it was not wired for tsunami detection in the same way - despite its heavily-populated and low-lying coastal areas.

Perhaps the great majority of the 2004 tsunami's victims could not have been saved by buoys and sirens. After all, by far the largest death toll was in Indonesia, where people had just been shaken by the massive quake and had only minutes to find high ground. Yet more than 60,000 people in other countries could have been saved they would have had at least an hour to move away from the shoreline - if they had had some warning. In the years since 2004, officials have worked hard to install and improve an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. Hopefully, this will ensure that the people of the Indian Ocean basin will never again be caught unawares while 100-foot walls of water barrel toward their shores.


A decade after the 2004 Asian Tsunami: recalling the turning point for disaster management

There is debate among language scholars on the two Chinese language characters for the word crisis one represents danger and the other possibility or opportunity. This has led to the often quoted cliché that &ldquoIn every crisis, there is opportunity&rdquo when in fact these two characters define a crisis: the opportunity or the possibility of danger.

Recalling that late morning of 26 December 2004, when the Asian tsunami hit some countries of WHO&rsquos South-East Asia Region, I remember receiving phone calls from our country offices in the Region describing the emergency as water entering the office compound in Maldives to waves rising as high as 40 meters lashing Sumatra, Indonesia, Andaman, sea coast area of Thailand, Myanmar, the eastern shoreline of Sri Lanka and South India. What was common about their stories was that the water receded from the shores till as far as the eye could see before it all struck back with a vengeance. From all the reports, it seemed only Indonesia felt an earthquake. The story evolved quickly for the world to see &ndash the final death toll reached close to 200 000 around 800 primary and secondary health facilities were destroyed coastal villages and people&rsquos livelihoods were wiped out the tourism sector suffered a major blow in Maldives and Thailand. The total damage was estimated at US$11 billion.

The response to the health needs was overwhelming&mdashthere was no recollection of a tsunami in recent times so there was no preparation. Coordination of response was rushed. For many countries systems were built as we responded. Donations in cash and in kind from individuals to governments became an event in itself and hard to manage. The WHO Regional Office for South East Asia deployed over 160 people over a period of three months to respond to the initial health needs. Every essential public health function &ndash surveillance, maternal child health services, immunization, psychosocial support, management of dead bodies - was conducted on a massive scale tailored to the needs of each of the affected countries. Field offices were set-up, logistic requirements put in place and technical experts were deployed wherever needed. It was a response and recovery operation WHO had not seen or committed to in its history.

Today, a decade later, the important question before us is: how do we prepare ourselves for such an event? More importantly, how prepared is prepared? Measuring preparedness should be the basis for addressing risks, no matter what the cause. A series of lessons learnt meetings, evaluations, review of responses, culminated in 2005 with a set of Benchmarks for Emergency Preparedness and Response which includes standards, indicators and guide questions. This tool intended to measure in detail what is in place for legal frameworks, plans, finance, coordination mechanisms, community capacities, and early warning for health events. The rest of the humanitarian and development actors were also looking to advance in this direction. The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) was developed in 2005 along with the UN Humanitarian Reform. This brought about a better approach to coordination in response, accountability and rapid predictable funding.

Indeed, we can do better and we can measure our actions so we can objectively identify gaps and address them. Countries have used the WHO South-East Asia benchmarks for capacity assessments and development for better risk management in the health sector.

This also helped countries that were not affected by the tsunami. The tsunami was the turning point for countries to see that risk management is an essential public health function and crucial for protecting people&rsquos health and investments. Countries also use HFA targets across sectors. Humanitarian reform has been applied in several emergencies with varying success but with systematic documentation of gains and gaps providing a clearer way for corrective action. Even with all these tools, investments, new plans and building back better &ndash the only proof of effective preparedness would be another event.

On 11 April 2012 an earthquake of 8.7 on the Richter scale rocked Aceh in Indonesia for four minutes. Tremors were also felt in neighbouring countries. It seemed like a repeat of 2004. But certain specific actions of that day clearly demonstrated that we had learned since then. There was evacuation to higher ground by all coastal communities from Aceh, Nias Island, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Thailand.

The clear link of the tsunami warning system (now in place in the Indian Ocean) and community relay of the communication was seen in many coastal areas such as Chennai where loudspeakers from local government representatives informed everyone to move to safer locations and heed the warning. Eight were reported dead and those injured were treated promptly and were accounted for. Hospitals in Banda Aceh evacuated their patients in an orderly manner- a result of their preparedness plans and drills. Although some health posts were damaged, the city infrastructure did not suffer from major destruction, in fact very few were damaged. The tourism sector in Sri Lanka was very organized in moving resort guests to higher ground.

Those initial 6 hours of response on 11 April proved that we have learnt what our risks are and know how to manage and continue confidently to live with them. Indeed, it pays to invest in making risk management capacities pervasive in all levels of society &ndash in all sectors. We have seen India, Indonesia, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand continue to improve systems they set-up with knowledge and tools developed through the lessons of the tsunami. Other countries have also done so using the same knowledge. The death tolls in various events have decreased over the past years as preparedness and response capacities have increased phenomenally. Today, as we look back at the devastating tsunami, we can say that it taught us valuable lessons.

To further build on these lessons, we must remain insightful of the linkages of hazards, risks and capacities. Reducing our vulnerabilities require an iterative, honest process of correction in what we invest in, where we invest and what we do to further decrease the risks to our people. Why? Because, even though our capacities increase, so do our risks. We are facing new risks today. Cities are sprouting unplanned, extreme weather events due to climate change are occurring with regularity people are moving globally with much more ease &ndash all of which contribute to another &ldquoperfect storm&rdquo.

Maybe our current capacities will not be enough for the next event so we need to keep questioning our status in order to improve. Global tools and mechanisms like the WHO South-East Asia Benchmarks will undergo regular use and review, the HFA will be updated in March 2015 and humanitarian reform has given way to the transformative agenda for the UN and partners to respond to mega-disasters.

It seems though that no effort is ever enough, the world is facing another global health emergency requiring resources from everywhere &ndashEbola is an old disease in new places. An event where there is no obvious physical proof of destruction but it is just as destructive to individuals, families, societies and nations. The Ebola outbreak is another event we need to learn from. We must continue to invest in prevention and preparedness to save more lives. This will eventually decrease the resources needed for the response and recovery in a future event.

Meanwhile, what is clear is that both statements are true- we live in a world where there is always a possibility for danger and in every crisis there is an opportunity. Knowing what we know now, we must look ahead and use that knowledge as an opportunity to keep getting better in saving lives, preventing diseases, and protecting health.

- Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh is WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia. As Deputy Regional Director (2002-2012), she was overall lead in the Tsunami 2004 response. She is a staunch advocate and practitioner of emergency risk management in the health sector.


ReliefWeb

New Delhi: Fifteen years ago on this day a strong earthquake in the Indian ocean triggered a massive tsunami, with waves as high as 100 feet, that hit several countries in WHO South-East Asia Region, killing over 200 000 people within hours, sweeping away their homes and livelihoods and crippling the much-needed health services. One of the deadliest tsunami in the history of mankind, it taught an important lesson &ndash the need for all countries to invest in emergency preparedness, to save lives during public health emergencies.

&ldquoEven today, this Region continues to be disaster prone. Our vulnerabilities have further increased in the last 15 years due to climate change and its associates risks and disease outbreaks, the growing threat of emerging and new diseases,. Though the Region has been making steady investments in emergency preparedness, this day is a reminder for us to strengthen our commitment and our resolve to further steel our preparedness at all levels to be able to save lives everywhere, even when such unexpected mega disasters hit,&rdquo said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.

In September this year, Member countries in the Region adopted &lsquoDelhi Declaration&rsquo to scale up preparedness to respond to health emergencies. The declaration calls for four key initiatives &ndash identify risks by mapping and assessing vulnerabilities for evidence-based planning invest in people and systems for risk management implement plans and interlink sectors and networks to engage and involve all, beyond health sector, who can and have a role in responding to public health emergencies.

The Region&rsquos novel initiative &ndash the South-East Asia Regional Health Emergency Fund (SEARHEF) - set up in 2008 to provide quick support to fund the most critical immediate response to health emergencies, is now also funding emergency preparedness. With SERAHEF funds, all countries have health emergency operations centers (HEOCs), equipped with systems to remain functional during health emergencies and be the hub for coordination of all responses. The SEARHEF has till date disbursed over 6.04 million USD to support 39 health emergencies.

All Member countries have contingency plans in place which are periodically tested. Countries have been holding simulation exercises, annual self-assessments and with external partners, which are used to guide further strengthening of preparedness and response capacities.

The investments in preparedness has been demonstrated in responses to the several big and small emergencies such as the devastating Nepal earthquake in 2015, the Rohingya crisis in Cox&rsquos Bazar Bangladesh, frequent earthquakes and tsunamis in Indonesia, seasonal cyclones and most recently India&rsquos response to cyclone Fani and the Nipah virus outbreak this year. Preparedness has helped substantially reduce deaths and diseases during these events.

&ldquoEven when we have responded better, we have had lessons learnt such as - our preparedness should not be limited only at the national level. All levels, including sub-national levels should be well prepared to respond to all public health emergencies,&rdquo Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Building capacities for emergency preparedness and operational readiness has been priority in the Region and a flagship programme since 2014.

Home to over a quarter of the world&rsquos population, WHO South-East Asia Region&rsquos preparedness to prevent / minimize impact of public health emergencies would significantly contribute to WHO&rsquos global triple billion targets to ensure one billion more are protected from health emergencies.

&ldquoOur efforts to protect the nearly 1.9 billion people in living in WHO South-East Asia Region during health emergencies, would be a befitting tribute to the 200 000 precious lives lost in the Indian Ocean tsunami,&rdquo the Regional Director said.


The 1976 Tangshan Earthquake, China

Most of Tangshan was fast asleep when the world came crashing down around them. At 3:43 a.m. on July 28, 1976, the industrial city in northeastern China’s Hebei Province was struck by a 7.6-magnitude quake that wiped out more than a third of its entire population. The official death toll rests around 242,000, though by some estimates fatalities may have reached 655,000, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

News of the event traveled slowly, and so did relief. Railroads, bridges and highways were rendered impassable, and survivors later recalled being trapped under mounds of bricks waiting to be saved. Roughly 80% of the buildings citywide were said to have been flattened or severely damaged the extent of destruction largely attributed to Tangshan’s complete unpreparedness for catastrophe despite its being built directly atop a known active fault line.

Seismic shifts were also taking place within the ruling Communist Party of China at the time disaster struck just months prior, the death of Premier Zhou Enlai precipitated a leadership scramble as party Chairman Mao Zedong’s health deteriorated and his Cultural Revolution was in its last act. Mao died about six weeks after the earthquake, and his successor Hua Guofeng preemptively seized on the issue to consolidate support, reportedly making a personal visit in early August.

Chinese officials rejected assistance from abroad and international media was not allowed access. According to a report published by TIME 23 years after the tragedy, the leftist political faction latched onto the crisis to reinforce their authority:

They refused offers of aid from international organizations and launched a campaign entitled Resist the Earthquake, Rescue Ourselves. Doctors and soldiers were sent in from all over the country. Injured residents were evacuated, often to distant hospitals, while provincial governments sheltered thousands of orphaned children. Temporary shanties sprang up throughout the devastated city and beyond. An infant born on the day of the disaster was famously named Xiedang: Thank you, party.

Nonetheless, the years that followed were beset by political rivalries that led to the downfall of the Maoist Gang of Four, the end of the Cultural Revolution and the resumption of power by reformist Deng Xiaopeng.

The Tangshan earthquake was the subject of a 2006 novel by Zhang Ling titled Aftershock, later adapted to the silver screen by director Feng Xiaogang. The film’s revised narrative followed the lead characters’ lives several decades down the line, when another calamitous quake hit central China’s Sichuan Province.


2004 disaster opened world’s eyes to tsunami danger

In the photo, taken just days after one of the deadliest tsunamis in history hit Southeast Asia, emergency workers search for bodies in a flooded hotel lobby, debris floating alongside cars.

Ten years later, the scene remains one of the most memorable for Tofino resident Deddeda White, who was a photojournalist in Thailand documenting the immediate aftermath of the Boxing Day disaster.

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“It was quite a surreal scene to go into. I’ve never witnessed anything like that before,” White said of the days she spent wandering the area around Patong Beach in southern Thailand. “There were dead bodies everywhere.”

Few people understood the devastating capacity of tsunamis before the 2004 disaster. Waves as tall as buildings rolled into coastal communities in 14 countries, flattening entire villages and claiming the lives of about 250,000 people. Since then, global warning systems have expanded, but vulnerabilities still exist at the local level.

For White, the first indication that something major had occurred were TV reports of an earthquake off Sumatra. The former Times Colonist photographer, whose surname at the time was Stemler, was snorkeling with her partner and fellow photojournalist Sean White on the east coast of Thailand, which was not affected by the disaster.

They booked flights to Phuket, a popular tourist destination, immediately. “I felt compelled to go, we were so close,” she said. “We made the decision to leave the next morning and cover it.”

Only a handful of other passengers were on the plane. When they asked a taxi driver to take them to Patong Beach, he twice tried to turn around.

“People were trying to flee,” White said. “They had already been hit by three waves, so it was pandemonium and panic.”

White spent her days at Patong Beach documenting the damage: cars crushed into hotel lobbies, sea life plastered onto building facades four storeys high. She visited eight or nine hospitals, which were being used as treatment centres for the injured, morgues for the dead and information centres for those looking for missing people.

When she was asked to return to work in Canada a few days later, she was devastated by the knowledge that some powerful images would go undocumented.

“No one understood the scale of how many people died that day. It was heart-wrenching,” she said.

Photographs like White’s gave people around the world a new understanding the threat posed by tsunamis, said Garry Rogers, an earthquake scientist based in Sidney.

Media coverage and camera phones meant people saw the devastation in an unprecedented way, emboldening politicians and citizens to call for an expanded global alert system.

As the Canadian representative to UNESCO’s Pacific tsunami warning system, Rogers has watched the alert system grow.

“I’ve seen it evolve from just a Pacific system that wasn’t as immediate as it is now, to a very effective system,” Rogers said. “And it’s largely because of that particular tsunami and the way visual media did a very good job of telling people.”

When the magnitude-9.1 earthquake hit in 2004, scientists knew immediately that a pulse of waves were headed to places like Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. But there was no formal way to warn them, since the alert system was limited to the Pacific Ocean, Rogers said. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that many people were on holiday.

“They didn’t know who to send the message to — they weren’t responsible for the Indian Ocean,” Rogers said.

Now there’s a system that issues tsunami warnings in every ocean of the world. There are 101 sea-level gauges, 148 seismometers and nine buoys in the Indian Ocean system. Vancouver Island has about 30 monitoring stations.

But significant vulnerabilities still exist at the local level, Rogers said. There’s a need for more public education, so that people will know what to do as soon as they feel prolonged shaking or see the ocean recede.

“If you’re in a coastal region and you feel strong shaking, get the hell out of there and head for high ground,” he said. “If all of a sudden the water drops and the tide goes out, don’t go out and pick up the fish. There were several people on the Indian Ocean who died because that’s exactly what they did.”

The other lesson is that a tsunami is not one wave, but a series of waves, he said, noting that waves can continue for up to 24 hours.

White, who lives in the tsunami zone of Tofino, is bothered by how little information is available to tourists visiting the area. She worries the town’s two sirens won’t be enough.

“It’s scary,” she said. “I just know if a tsunami hit Tofino or anywhere else on the West Coast, there would be a huge loss of life. It’s hard to imagine what communities could actually do to prepare, but I think there has to be more education.”


Ten Years Since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami

On this day, ten years ago, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, generating a massive tsunami that claimed more than 230,000 lives in fourteen different countries, one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. Today, many of the communities have recovered, though painful memories and some ruined structures remain in place. Across Asia today, memorials were held in remembrance of the thousands of victims. Amid the commemorations, continued warnings from earthquake experts that early-warning systems need even more development and funding in the region. Gathered here are images of the 2004 event, a series of then-and-now comparison images, and photos from today's memorials.

Seawater splashes in the air as the the first tsunami waves hit Ao Nang, Krabi Province, Thailand, on December 26, 2004. #

Foreign tourists far out on the sand after the water receded react as the first of six tsunami waves started to roll towards Hat Rai Lay Beach, near Krabi in southern Thailand, on December 26, 2004. #

People flee as a tsunami wave comes crashing ashore at Koh Raya, part of Thailand's territory in the Andaman islands, 23 kilometers from Phuket island, southern Thailand, on December 26, 2004. The photographer who took this picture escaped without injury, but retreated at the first wave and watched as a second wave tore apart the wooden buildings, with a third and largest wave coming forward and "ripping apart the cement buildings like they were made of balsa wood". #

Waves wash through houses at Maddampegama, about 60 kilometers (38 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on December 26, 2004. Tsunami waves triggered by earthquakes crashed into villages along a wide stretch of Sri Lankan coast, killing more than 35,300 people and displacing millions. #

In this photo taken by a tourist Eric Skitzi from England, tourists watch as tsunami waves hit the shore from inside the Casuarina Beach Hotel resort in Penang, northwestern Malaysia around 1:00pm local time (0500GMT) on December 26, 2004. The resort hotel lifeguards noticed waves were huge and sounded warning to all tourists around the hotel beach area to run to the safety area. #

Waves crash through houses at Maddampegama, Sri Lanka, on December 26, 2004. #

A natural color satellite image shows the coastline of the southwestern city of Kalutara, Sri Lanka on December 26, 2004 at 10:20 a.m. local time, slightly less than four hours after the 6:28 a.m. (local Sri Lanka time) earthquake and shortly after the moment of tsunami impact. #

An aerial view of a destroyed and flooded village after waves hit following an earthquake near the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, on December 28, 2004. #

A general view of the scene at Marina beach in Madras, India, on December 26, 2004, after tsunami waves hit the region. Waves devastated the southern Indian coastline killing an estimated 18,000 people. #

An aerial view of Marina beach after a tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean hit the area in the southern Indian city of Madras on December 26, 2004. #

This photo of Phuket, Thailand was taken moments after the Indian Ocean Tsunami ravaged Southern Asia on December 26, 2004. #

An Indian woman mourns the death of her relative who was killed in the tsunami in Cuddalore, some 180 km (112 mi) south of the southern Indian city of Madras, on December 28, 2004. #

(1 of 2) A file photo taken on January 5, 2005 of the devastated district of Banda Aceh in Aceh province located on Indonesia's Sumatra island in the aftermath of the massive December 26, 2004 tsunami. #

(2 of 2) The same location as above, photographed on December 1, 2014, showing new houses and rebuilt community. #

(1 of 2) A file photo taken on January 9, 2005 of the impassable main coastal road covered with debris in Aceh Besar district, in Aceh province on Indonesia's Sumatra island where surrounding houses and buildings were heavily damaged and coastal villages wiped out in the aftermath of the massive December 26, 2004 tsunami. #

(2 of 2) The same location as above, photographed on November 29, 2014, showing the new highway. #

(1 of 2) Indonesian military personnel unload corpses from a truck on January 9, 2005 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Estimates of the death toll in Indonesia top 150,000. #

(2 of 2) In the same location as above, a man walks near the mass grave prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

(1 of 2) A file photo taken with a telephoto lens on January 16, 2005 of a partly damaged mosque in the Lampuuk coastal district of Banda Aceh where surrounding houses were wiped out in the aftermath of the massive December 26, 2004 tsunami. #

(2 of 2) Tthe same location as above, photographed with a wide angle lens on December 1, 2014, showing the renovated mosque surrounded by new houses and rebuilt community. #

(1 of 2) An aerial shot taken from a US Navy Seahawk helicopter from carrier USS Abraham Lincoln shows devastation caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami to the west of Aceh on January 8, 2005 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

(2 of 2) A view of the same area of Lampuuk, prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 11, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

(1 of 2) Acehnese walk amid dead bodies and debris thrown around by a Tsunami that hit the Indonesian City of Banda Aceh on December 28, 2004 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

(2 of 2) At the same location as above, people drive along Panglima Polim street prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 10, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

(1 of 2) All over Ton Sai Bay, the heart of Koh Phi Phi shops, restaurants and bungalows were totally wiped out following a Tsunami December 28, 2004 on Phi Phi Island, Thailand. #

(2 of 2) A decade later, the same location, showing a view of the beach prior to the ten year anniversary of the 2004 earthquake and tsunami on December 12, 2014 in Phi Phi Village, Ton Sai Bay, Thailand. #

The ruins the dome of a mosque that was hit by the tsunami, seen on December 14, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

Acehnese women cry as they pray at mass grave to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami on December 26, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

Ruins of a bridge that was hit by the tsunami, seen on December 14, 2014 in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. #

Visitors take pictures of the glowing names of tsunami victims at Aceh Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh on December 26, 2014. Survivors of Asia's 2004 tsunami and relatives of its victims cried and prayed as they gathered along Indian Ocean shorelines on Friday for memorials to mark the 10th anniversary of a disaster that still leaves an indelible mark on the region. #

Personal possessions of 2004 tsunami victims are arranged to be photographed outside a police station in Takua Pa, in Phang Nga province, on December 19, 2014. Thai police opened a shipping container filled with documents and possessions of victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami after being asked by Reuters for permission to film its contents. The three meter by 12 meter container was handed over to Thai police in 2011 and contains hundreds of plastic police evidence bags - each one holding the precious items found on the body of a victim. #

People light candles as survivors, local residents and visitors gather for a ceremony for victims of 2004 tsunami in Ban Nam Khem, a southern fishing village destroyed by the wave, on December 26, 2014. In Thailand, where 5,395 people were killed, among them about 2,000 foreign tourists, commemoration ceremonies will be held in Ban Nam Khem. #

Hundreds of lanterns which symbolizes the spirits of victims of the Asian tsunami, are released into the sky during a commemoration service to mark the 10th anniversary of the day this natural disaster happened, on December 26, 2014 in Ban Nam Khem, Thailand. #

Soe, the eight-year-old daughter of a fisherman from Myanmar, rests in a hammock outside her family home in Ban Nam Khem, Thailand, on December 13, 2014. Ban Nam Khem, a small fishing village on Thailand's Andaman Sea coast and home to a large migrant workers' community, lost nearly half of its population of 5,000 in the 2004 tsunami. #

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When did the 2004 tsunami happen?

Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, tsunami that hit the coasts of several countries of South and Southeast Asia in December 2004. The tsunami and its aftermath were responsible for immense destruction and loss on the rim of the Indian Ocean. did you know? The earthquake that caused the tsunami lasted almost 10 minutes.

Also Know, how many people died in the 2004 tsunami? 230,000 people

Likewise, people ask, why did the 2004 tsunami happen?

The December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by an earthquake that is thought to have had the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. Within hours of the earthquake, killer waves radiating from the epicenter slammed into the coastlines of 11 countries, damaging countries from east Africa to Thailand.

Did the 2004 tsunami hit Bali?

The Boxing Day 2004 tsunami struck off the northern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia. I think if you're reading TripAdviser you will note many, many traveller's are holidaying currently in Bali or proceeding with their plans.


Guidelines for working with separated children: Psychosocial Responses to the Sri Lankan Tsunami Disaster

The following is a draft set of guidelines compiled by the Psychosocial Support Programme of the IWTHI Trust (Tel: +94-11-4516408/+94-11-4515279 Email: [email protected])on 31st December 2004. The primary reference document from which this information was summarised was Separated Children: Care and Protection of Children in Emergencies A Field Guide. Save the Children Federation 2004. Please send comments or additions to these draft guidelines via the link at the bottom of this POST - or via email to the above address. These guidelines will be revised or updated as information comes in from other agencies active on the ground in Sri Lanka.

 For children, relationships with a significant adult (a family member, teacher, aunt etc.) are very important. Being able to trust at least one adult who can take care of them can pull them through stressful times.

 It is not always the event that can have a psychological and emotional impact on the child, but the lack of emotional support, separation from parents or family, taken out of familiar context and community, and grief and distress of parents and adults.

 Do not remove or separate children from family members. Do not separate siblings. If family members are missing try to keep the child with someone he/she knows and trusts and support that caregiver and child.

 Identify informal care systems that exist in the community (relatives or neighbours taking care of children), and find out if traditional care systems have been affected by crises/disaster.

 Moving a child from such informal care arrangements provided by the community or other family members could bring additional distress. A child should be moved only if the assessment shows that the child is suffering from emotional or physical abuse, exploitative labour, neglect, poor care or abandonment from these new care givers.

 Provide economic, social and emotional support to these informal arrangements so that the child can remain in familiar surroundings and within relationships that they trust.

 Children should be informed of care arrangements and be consulted in decision-making processes about their care.

 Be honest and open about the disaster. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” and keep discussions about the their experiences open and honest.

 In cases of children being separated from family members or siblings collect as much information as possible from the child, from the people the child was found with, and relatives/friends/school teachers. Give this information to groups documenting and working on missing people. If possible take a photograph of the child and attach to the file.

 It is important to document all possible information as soon as the child is found. Please register separated children immediately with relevant government authorities such as child probation officers and local police stations. Measures are currently underway by Probation & Childcare and National Child Protection Authories to support tracing and care for such children. Registering children is ESSENTIAL for successful care in the coming days and weeks. More information on these measures will be provided as soon as they are available. Record the following information: Name and pet name(whatever the child remembers), Age, Sex, Address or Village name, Names of family members, relatives (in the area and outside the area), friends and neighbours, Name of school, occupation of parents, where the child is located currently and where he/she may be moved.

 Before moving the child anywhere, show the child to adults and children from the area that may recognise him/her.

 Establish a location where adults can also provide information about missing children and maintain detailed database on this.

 If children are being moved for some unavoidable reason provide children with identity tags (with the above information), provide drivers of vehicles transporting children with rosters of names and other details of children, register children in location they are being moved from and give clear information about where they are being moved to. At all times, attempt to keep children close to their homes or at least within a major town in the district.

 Try to involve older children and adolescents in activities carried out in the camp/displaced community – such as distributing goods, documenting information, caring for younger children etc.

 All notices and information provided should be in simple language so that a child of 12 years can understand and follow it.

 Be sensitive to special needs or adolescent girl children, such as menstruation, special clothing and undergarments, toilet facilities and safety.

 Try to maintain a daily routine (however basic such as regular eating and sleeping times) for the child as much as possible.

 If someone comes to claim a child, make sure that the child is able to identify the person. In all cases, take down information (ID number, address, contact details) of the person claiming the child prior to handing the child over. Remember that some people may be trying to take advantage of the situation to exploit such vulnerable children.

 Normal stress reactions when faced with crises situations or disasters:

 Anxiety, sleeplessness, grief, shock, emotio nal numbness or expression is part of any normal human response. Important: These are normal and expected reactions from children and should not be treated as a major psychological trauma or pathological reactions needing professional help.

 Respect children’s responses and allow them time and opportunities to express them in a way that they are comfortable with.

 Attend to immediate needs of the children and be supportive.

 Be sensitive to children with special needs, such as children with disabilities.

 Be kind, calm, and attempt to explain everything that is being done, even if you are not sure that the child/children understand you.

Five days after the tsunami of 26 December, news continues to pour in of increasing number of deaths and destruction of homes and livelihoods in South and South East Asia. UN agencies, governments and civil society groups all over the world have launched several relief and rehabilitation initiatives. Unfortunately due to the massive scale of destruction, there is an urgent need to step up efforts.

While there is an immediate need to contribute towards relief operations which includes provision of drinking water, food, blankets and medical assistance, we also need to keep in mind that reconstruction and restoration of homes and livelihoods, particularly of fishing communities who have suffered the most, will be one of our biggest challenges over the next few months. At the South Asia Regional Programme of Habitat International Coalition - Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN), we are in touch with partner organisations in affected areas and trying to raise funds to meet relief and rehabilitation needs. In New Delhi, we are a part of a consortium of concerned organisations and individuals that has come together to form the Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee to coordinate assistance and support to local organisations involved in the relief efforts. The Committee has agreed to focus on the most severely affected areas of the Andaman and Nicobar islands and in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Committee has also agreed to focus primarily on rehabilitation of the displaced and restoration of livelihoods.

For those interested in contributing to this effort, listed below are a few options

1. Delhi Tsunami Relief Fund,Indian Social Institute, 10, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003, India
2. Association for India's Development (AID), P.O. Box F, College Park, MD-20741, USA.

Association for India's Development (AID) working among affected communities in Tamil Nadu in southern India. Contributions to AID can be made through secure on-line credit-card deductions from AID's website: http://survivors.aidindia.org where further details and updates will also be made available. Please indicate that your contribution is for the "Relief and Rehabilitation Fund". Contributions can also be sent by check made payable to "AID" mailed to: Please indicate "Relief and Rehabilitation Fund" in the check memo.
In India, cheques for AID can be mailed to AID-India, Old No 132, New No 242, Avvai Shanmugam Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai - 600 086, Tamil Nadu, India.

3. Our partners in Sri Lanka - Institute of Social Development is engaged in relief efforts in the eastern province of Sri Lanka and are in urgent need for funds. We request you to kindly support their efforts. For details contact K.Yogeswary at kandyisd AT sltnet D-O-T lkFor questions on relief efforts in India and Sri Lanka or on contributions to the Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee and Association for India's Development please contact Malavika Vartak at mvartak AT hic-sarp D-O-T org or Vishal Thakre at vthakre AT hic-sarp D-O-T org We will continue to send you regular updates on relief and reconstruction efforts and on ways in which you can contribute.

HIC-HLRN will continue to work with affected communities beyond immediate relief, and into the second stage where will seek to ensure that the human rights approach is adopted in all rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. We look forward to your supportIn solidarityMiloon Kothari, Priti Darooka, Malavika Vartak, Shivani Chaudhry, Vishal Thakre South Asia Regional Programme (SARP) Habitat International Coalition Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)B-28 Nizamuddin East New Delhi 110 013 IndiaTel/Fax: 00 91 11 2435 8492 web: www.hic-sarp.org

Appeal from Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee

Five days after the tsunami of 26 December, news continues to pour in of increasing number of deaths and destruction of homes and livelihoods in South and South East Asia. UN agencies, governments and civil society groups all over the world have launched several relief and rehabilitation initiatives. Unfortunately due to the massive scale of destruction, there is an urgent need to step up efforts.

While there is an immediate need to contribute towards relief operations which includes provision of drinking water, food, blankets and medical assistance, we also need to keep in mind that reconstruction and restoration of homes and livelihoods, particularly of fishing communities who have suffered the most, will be one of our biggest challenges over the next few months.
At the South Asia Regional Programme of Habitat International Coalition - Housing and Land Rights Network (HIC-HLRN), we are in touch with partner organisations in affected areas and trying to raise funds to meet relief and rehabilitation needs. In New Delhi, we are a part of a consortium of concerned organisations and individuals that has come together to form the Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee to coordinate assistance and support to local organisations involved in the relief efforts. The Committee has agreed to focus on the most severely affected areas of the Andaman and Nicobar islands and in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Committee has also agreed to focus primarily on rehabilitation of the displaced and restoration of livelihoods.

For those interested in contributing to this effort, listed below are a few options
1. Delhi Tsunami Relief Fund,
Indian Social Institute,
10, Institutional Area, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110 003, India
2. Association for India's Development (AID),
P.O. Box F, College Park,
MD-20741, USA.

Association for India's Development (AID) working among affected communities in Tamil Nadu in southern India. Contributions to AID can be made through secure on-line credit-card deductions from AID's website: http://survivors.aidindia.org/ where further details and updates will also be made available. Please indicate that your contribution is for the "Relief and Rehabilitation Fund". Contributions can also be sent by check made payable to "AID" mailed to: Please indicate "Relief and Rehabilitation Fund" in the check memo.

In India, cheques for AID can be mailed to AID-India, Old No 132, New No 242, Avvai Shanmugam Road, Gopalapuram, Chennai - 600 086, Tamil Nadu, India.

3. Our partners in Sri Lanka - Institute of Social Development is engaged in relief efforts in the eastern province of Sri Lanka and are in urgent need for funds. We request you to kindly support their efforts. For details contact K.Yogeswary at kandyisd AT sltnet D-O-T lk
For questions on relief efforts in India and Sri Lanka or on contributions to the Delhi Tsunami Relief Committee and Association for India's Development please contact Malavika Vartak at mvartak AT hic-sarp D-O-T org or Vishal Thakre at vthakre AT hic-sarp D-O-T org
We will continue to send you regular updates on relief and reconstruction efforts and on ways in which you can contribute.

HIC-HLRN will continue to work with affected communities beyond immediate relief, and into the second stage where will seek to ensure that the human rights approach is adopted in all rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

We look forward to your support
In solidarity
Miloon Kothari, Priti Darooka, Malavika Vartak, Shivani Chaudhry, Vishal Thakre

South Asia Regional Programme (SARP)Habitat International Coalition Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)B-28 Nizamuddin EastNew Delhi 110 013IndiaTel/Fax: 00 91 11 2435 8492
web: www.hic-sarp.org

Draft Guidelines For The Media On Reporting On The Tsunami Disaster

The following draft guidelines have been provided to the Psychosocial Support Programme of the IWTHI Trust (Tel: +94 11 4516408/ + 94 11 4515279 Email: [email protected]eol.lk/ [email protected]). Please feel free to send in comments via email or the link provided below. The guidelines will be updated as we receive comments or additional insights from those active on the ground in Sri Lanka.

# Remember that the disaster is a national issue so that partisan or other vested interests must not be considered in reporting and/or commentary…

# Remember that the disaster is regional in scope so that the relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation work must be placed in context when reporting and/or commenting…

# Remember that the disaster is international in the attention it has and will receive so that reporting and/or commenting will reflect the state of the nation, affect its national developmental agenda, and impact the responses of the global community in crucial matters of aid and relief…

# Report and/or comment responsibly, reasonably and fairly keeping in mind not to sensationalise, speculate or generalise…

# Report and/or comment equitably keeping in mind that the people affected are from all races, religions, communities and geographical areas…

# Report and/or comment accurately yet positively keeping in mind the critical and crucial role that the media can play in the national effort to restore, reconstruct and rehabilitate Sri Lanka…

# Report and/or comment sensitively keeping in mind that lives have been lost, livelihoods irreparably damaged, property irrevocably lost and future prospects inestimably compromised…

# Reporting and/or comment with an emphasis of expectation that normal recovery will eventually take place for communities that have been affected – keeping in mind that emphasising losses will increase the sense of hopelessness and despair that people feel…

# Report and/or comment in ways that are reassuring and empathic about people and their current situations – keeping in mind that people are normally expected to exhibit stress reactions at this time as also that being confused, sad and anxious are natural signs of shock and stress… as are crying, screaming or anger and also that these are not signs of psychiatric impact or trauma…

# Report and/or comment humanely keeping in mind that people in these circumstances may still retain a sense of hope and humour, and may be active in reorganising their lives as also that it is not a sign of ignorance or indifference if people who are affected smile or appreciate what they do have left…

# Report and/or comment while being mindful of human dignity while remaining sensitive and aware of the repercussions of depicting mutilated and decomposed bodies, as family members of the deceased who may view these in the media could be further distressed…

# Resolve to be sensitive in interviewing people keeping in mind not to ask them unnecessary personal questions, or force them to talk as also allowing them to share what they would like to, even if it doesn’t make ‘good copy’…

Provided to the PSP of the IWTHI Trust by a Journalist who wishes to remain anonymous


Contents

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was initially documented as having a moment magnitude of 8.8. In February 2005, scientists revised the estimate of the magnitude to 9.0. [17] Although the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has accepted these new numbers, the United States Geological Survey has so far not changed its estimate of 9.1. A 2006 study estimated a magnitude of Mw 9.1–9.3 Hiroo Kanamori of the California Institute of Technology estimates that Mw 9.2 is representative of the earthquake's size. [18]

The hypocentre of the main earthquake was approximately 160 km (100 mi) off the western coast of northern Sumatra, in the Indian Ocean just north of Simeulue island at a depth of 30 km (19 mi) below mean sea level (initially reported as 10 km or 6.2 mi). The northern section of the Sunda megathrust ruptured over a length of 1,300 km (810 mi). [15] The earthquake (followed by the tsunami) was felt in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. [19] Splay faults, or secondary "pop up faults", caused long, narrow parts of the seafloor to pop up in seconds. This quickly elevated the height and increased the speed of waves, destroying the nearby Indonesian town of Lhoknga. [20]

Indonesia lies between the Pacific Ring of Fire along the north-eastern islands adjacent to New Guinea, and the Alpide belt that runs along the south and west from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Flores to Timor. The 2002 Sumatra earthquake is believed to have been a foreshock, preceding the main event by over two years. [21]

Great earthquakes, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, are associated with megathrust events in subduction zones. Their seismic moments can account for a significant fraction of the global seismic moment across century-scale periods. Of all the moment released by earthquakes in the 100 years from 1906 through 2005, roughly one eighth was due to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. This quake, together with the Good Friday earthquake (Alaska, 1964) and the Great Chilean earthquake (1960), account for almost half of the total moment. [ citation needed ]

Since 1900, the only earthquakes recorded with a greater magnitude were the 1960 Great Chilean earthquake (magnitude 9.5) and the 1964 Good Friday earthquake in Prince William Sound (magnitude 9.2). The only other recorded earthquakes of magnitude 9.0 or greater were off Kamchatka, Russia, on 4 November 1952 (magnitude 9.0) and Tōhoku, Japan (magnitude 9.1) in March 2011. Each of these megathrust earthquakes also spawned tsunamis in the Pacific Ocean. In comparison to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the death toll from these earthquakes was significantly lower, primarily because of the lower population density along the coasts near affected areas, the much greater distances to more populated coasts, and the superior infrastructure and warning systems in MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries) such as Japan. [ citation needed ]

Other huge megathrust earthquakes occurred in 1868 (Peru, Nazca Plate and South American Plate) 1827 (Colombia, Nazca Plate and South American Plate) 1812 (Venezuela, Caribbean Plate and South American Plate) and 1700 (western North America, Juan de Fuca Plate and North American Plate). All of them are believed to be greater than magnitude 9, but no accurate measurements were available at the time. [ citation needed ]

Tectonic plates

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was unusually large in geographical and geological extent. An estimated 1,600 km (1,000 mi) of fault surface slipped (or ruptured) about 15 m (50 ft) along the subduction zone where the Indian Plate slides (or subducts) under the overriding Burma Plate. The slip did not happen instantaneously but took place in two phases over several minutes: Seismographic and acoustic data indicate that the first phase involved a rupture about 400 km (250 mi) long and 100 km (60 mi) wide, 30 km (19 mi) beneath the sea bed—the largest rupture ever known to have been caused by an earthquake. The rupture proceeded at about 2.8 km/s (1.7 mi/s 10,000 km/h 6,300 mph), beginning off the coast of Aceh and proceeding north-westerly over about 100 seconds. After a pause of about another 100 seconds, the rupture continued northwards towards the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The northern rupture occurred more slowly than in the south, at about 2.1 km/s (1.3 mi/s 7,600 km/h 4,700 mph), continuing north for another five minutes to a plate boundary where the fault type changes from subduction to strike-slip (the two plates slide past one another in opposite directions).

The Indian Plate is part of the great Indo-Australian Plate, which underlies the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, and is moving north-east at an average of 60 mm/a (0.075 in/Ms). The India Plate meets the Burma Plate (which is considered a portion of the great Eurasian Plate) at the Sunda Trench. At this point, the India Plate subducts beneath the Burma Plate, which carries the Nicobar Islands, the Andaman Islands, and northern Sumatra. The India Plate sinks deeper and deeper beneath the Burma Plate until the increasing temperature and pressure drive volatiles out of the subducting plate. These volatiles rise into the overlying plate, causing partial melting and the formation of magma. The rising magma intrudes into the crust above and exits the Earth's crust through volcanoes in the form of a volcanic arc. The volcanic activity that results as the Indo-Australian Plate subducts the Eurasian Plate has created the Sunda Arc.

As well as the sideways movement between the plates, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake resulted in a rise of the seafloor by several metres, displacing an estimated 30 km 3 (7.2 cu mi) of water and triggering devastating tsunami waves. The waves radiated outwards along the entire 1,600 km (1,000 mi) length of the rupture (acting as a line source). This greatly increased the geographical area over which the waves were observed, reaching as far as Mexico, Chile, and the Arctic. The raising of the seafloor significantly reduced the capacity of the Indian Ocean, producing a permanent rise in the global sea level by an estimated 0.1 mm (0.004 in). [22]

Aftershocks and other earthquakes

Numerous aftershocks were reported off the Andaman Islands, the Nicobar Islands and the region of the original epicentre in the hours and days that followed. The magnitude 8.7 2005 Nias–Simeulue earthquake, which originated off the coast of the Sumatran island of Nias, is not considered an aftershock, despite its proximity to the epicentre, and was most likely triggered by stress changes associated with the 2004 event. [23] The earthquake produced its own aftershocks (some registering a magnitude of as high as 6.1) and presently ranks as the third-largest earthquake ever recorded on the moment magnitude or Richter magnitude scale.

Other aftershocks of up to magnitude 6.6 continued to shake the region daily for three or four months. [24] As well as continuing aftershocks, the energy released by the original earthquake continued to make its presence felt well after the event. A week after the earthquake, its reverberations could still be measured, providing valuable scientific data about the Earth's interior.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake came just three days after a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in the sub-antarctic Auckland Islands, an uninhabited region west of New Zealand, and Macquarie Island to Australia's north. This is unusual since earthquakes of magnitude eight or more occur only about once per year on average. [25] The U.S. Geological Survey sees no evidence of a causal relationship between these events. [26]

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake is thought to have triggered activity in both Leuser Mountain [27] and Mount Talang, [28] volcanoes in Aceh along the same range of peaks, while the 2005 Nias–Simeulue earthquake had sparked activity in Lake Toba, an ancient crater in Sumatra. [29]

Energy released

The energy released on the Earth's surface (ME, which is the seismic potential for damage) by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was estimated at 1.1 × 10 17 joules (110 PJ 26 Mt). [30] This energy is equivalent to over 1,500 times that of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, but less than that of Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated. The total physical work done MW (and thus energy) by the quake was 4.0 × 10 22 joules (40 ZJ), [31] the vast majority underground, which is over 360,000 times more than its ME, equivalent to 9,600 gigatons of TNT equivalent (550 million times that of Hiroshima) or about 370 years of energy use in the United States at 2005 levels of 1.08 × 10 20 joules (108 EJ). The only recorded earthquakes with a larger MW were the 1960 Chilean and 1964 Alaskan quakes, with 2.5 × 10 23 joules (250 ZJ) and 7.5 × 10 22 joules (75 ZJ), respectively. [32]

The earthquake generated a seismic oscillation of the Earth's surface of up to 200–300 mm (8–12 in), equivalent to the effect of the tidal forces caused by the Sun and Moon. The seismic waves of the earthquake were felt across the planet as far away as the U.S. state of Oklahoma, where vertical movements of 3 mm (0.12 in) were recorded. By February 2005, the earthquake's effects were still detectable as a 20 μm (0.02 mm 0.0008 in) complex harmonic oscillation of the Earth's surface, which gradually diminished and merged with the incessant free oscillation of the Earth more than four months after the earthquake. [33]

Because of its enormous energy release and shallow rupture depth, the earthquake generated remarkable seismic ground motions around the globe, particularly due to huge Rayleigh (surface) elastic waves that exceeded 10 mm (0.4 in) in vertical amplitude everywhere on Earth. The record section plot displays vertical displacements of the Earth's surface recorded by seismometers from the IRIS/USGS Global Seismographic Network plotted with respect to time (since the earthquake initiation) on the horizontal axis, and vertical displacements of the Earth on the vertical axis (note the 1 cm scale bar at the bottom for scale). The seismograms are arranged vertically by distance from the epicentre in degrees. The earliest, lower amplitude signal is that of the compressional (P) wave, which takes about 22 minutes to reach the other side of the planet (the antipode in this case near Ecuador). The largest amplitude signals are seismic surface waves that reach the antipode after about 100 minutes. The surface waves can be clearly seen to reinforce near the antipode (with the closest seismic stations in Ecuador), and to subsequently encircle the planet to return to the epicentral region after about 200 minutes. A major aftershock (magnitude 7.1) can be seen at the closest stations starting just after the 200-minute mark. The aftershock would be considered a major earthquake under ordinary circumstances but is dwarfed by the mainshock.

The shift of mass and the massive release of energy slightly altered the Earth's rotation. The exact amount is not yet known, but theoretical models suggest the earthquake shortened the length of a day by 2.68 microseconds, due to a decrease in the oblateness of the Earth. [34] It also caused the Earth to minutely "wobble" on its axis by up to 25 mm (1 in) in the direction of 145° east longitude, [35] or perhaps by up to 50 or 60 mm (2.0 or 2.4 in). [36] Because of tidal effects of the Moon, the length of a day increases at an average of 15 microseconds per year, so any rotational change due to the earthquake will be lost quickly. Similarly, the natural Chandler wobble of the Earth, which in some cases can be up to 15 m (50 ft), will eventually offset the minor wobble produced by the earthquake.

There was 10 m (33 ft) movement laterally and 4–5 m (13–16 ft) vertically along the fault line. Early speculation was that some of the smaller islands south-west of Sumatra, which is on the Burma Plate (the southern regions are on the Sunda Plate), might have moved south-west by up to 36 m (120 ft), but more accurate data released more than a month after the earthquake found the movement to be about 0.2 m (8 in). [37] Since movement was vertical as well as lateral, some coastal areas may have been moved to below sea level. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands appear to have shifted south-west by around 1.25 m (4 ft 1 in) and to have sunk by 1 m (3 ft 3 in). [38]

In February 2005, the Royal Navy vessel HMS Scott surveyed the seabed around the earthquake zone, which varies in depth between 1,000 and 5,000 m (550 and 2,730 fathoms 3,300 and 16,400 ft). The survey, conducted using a high-resolution, multi-beam sonar system, revealed that the earthquake had made a considerable impact on the topography of the seabed. 1,500-metre-high (5,000 ft) thrust ridges created by previous geologic activity along the fault had collapsed, generating landslides several kilometres wide. One such landslide consisted of a single block of rock some 100 m (330 ft) high and 2 km (1.2 mi) long. The momentum of the water displaced by tectonic uplift had also dragged massive slabs of rock, each weighing millions of tonnes, as far as 10 km (6 mi) across the seabed. An oceanic trench several kilometres wide was exposed in the earthquake zone. [39]

The TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 satellites happened to pass over the tsunami as it was crossing the ocean. [40] These satellites carry radars that measure precisely the height of the water surface anomalies in the order of 500 mm (20 in) were measured. Measurements from these satellites may prove invaluable for the understanding of the earthquake and tsunami. [41] Unlike data from tide gauges installed on shores, measurements obtained in the middle of the ocean can be used for computing the parameters of the source earthquake without having to compensate for the complex ways in which proximity to the coast changes the size and shape of a wave.

The sudden vertical rise of the seabed by several metres during the earthquake displaced massive volumes of water, resulting in a tsunami that struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean. A tsunami that causes damage far away from its source is sometimes called a teletsunami and is much more likely to be produced by the vertical motion of the seabed than by horizontal motion. [42]

The tsunami, like all others, behaved differently in deep water than in shallow water. In deep ocean water, tsunami waves form only a low, broad hump, barely noticeable and harmless, which generally travels at high speed of 500 to 1,000 km/h (310 to 620 mph) in shallow water near coastlines, a tsunami slows down to only tens of kilometres per hour but, in doing so, forms large destructive waves. Scientists investigating the damage in Aceh found evidence that the wave reached a height of 24 m (80 ft) when coming ashore along large stretches of the coastline, rising to 30 m (100 ft) in some areas when travelling inland. [4] Radar satellites recorded the heights of tsunami waves in deep water: maximum height was at 600 mm (2 ft) two hours after the earthquake, the first such observations ever made. [43] [44]

According to Tad Murty, vice-president of the Tsunami Society, the total energy of the tsunami waves was equivalent to about 5 megatons of TNT (21 PJ), which is more than twice the total explosive energy used during all of World War II (including the two atomic bombs) but still a couple of orders of magnitude less than the energy released in the earthquake itself. In many places, the waves reached as far as 2 km (1.2 mi) inland. [45]

Because the 1,600 km (1,000 mi) fault affected by the earthquake was in a nearly north–south orientation, the greatest strength of the tsunami waves was in an east–west direction. Bangladesh, which lies at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, had few casualties despite being a low-lying country relatively near the epicentre. It also benefited from the fact that the earthquake proceeded more slowly in the northern rupture zone, greatly reducing the energy of the water displacements in that region.

Coasts that have a landmass between them and the tsunami's location of origin are usually safe however, tsunami waves can sometimes diffract around such landmasses. Thus, the state of Kerala was hit by the tsunami despite being on the western coast of India, and the western coast of Sri Lanka suffered substantial impacts. Distance alone was no guarantee of safety, as Somalia was hit harder than Bangladesh despite being much farther away.

Because of the distances involved, the tsunami took anywhere from fifteen minutes to seven hours to reach the coastlines. [46] [47] The northern regions of the Indonesian island of Sumatra were hit quickly, while Sri Lanka and the east coast of India were hit roughly 90 minutes to two hours later. Thailand was struck about two hours later despite being closer to the epicentre because the tsunami travelled more slowly in the shallow Andaman Sea off its western coast.

The tsunami was noticed as far as Struisbaai in South Africa, about 8,500 km (5,300 mi) away, where a 1.5-metre-high (5 ft) tide surged on shore about 16 hours after the earthquake. It took a relatively long time to reach Struisbaai at the southernmost point of Africa, probably because of the broad continental shelf off South Africa and because the tsunami would have followed the South African coast from east to west. The tsunami also reached Antarctica, where tidal gauges at Japan's Showa Base recorded oscillations of up to a metre (3 ft 3 in), with disturbances lasting a couple of days. [48]

Some of the tsunami's energy escaped into the Pacific Ocean, where it produced small but measurable tsunamis along the western coasts of North and South America, typically around 200 to 400 mm (7.9 to 15.7 in). [49] At Manzanillo, Mexico, a 2.6 m (8.5 ft) crest-to-trough tsunami was measured. As well, the tsunami was large enough to be detected in Vancouver, which puzzled many scientists, as the tsunamis measured in some parts of South America were larger than those measured in some parts of the Indian Ocean. It has been theorized that the tsunamis were focused and directed at long ranges by the mid-ocean ridges which run along the margins of the continental plates. [50]

Early signs and warnings

Despite a delay of up to several hours between the earthquake and the impact of the tsunami, nearly all of the victims were taken by surprise. There were no tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean to detect tsunamis or to warn the general population living around the ocean. [51] Tsunami detection is not easy because while a tsunami is in deep water, it has little height and a network of sensors is needed to detect it.

Tsunamis are more frequent in the Pacific Ocean than in other oceans because of earthquakes in the "Ring of Fire". Although the extreme western edge of the Ring of Fire extends into the Indian Ocean (the point where the earthquake struck), no warning system exists in that ocean. Tsunamis there are relatively rare despite earthquakes being relatively frequent in Indonesia. The last major tsunami was caused by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa. Not every earthquake produces large tsunamis: on 28 March 2005, a magnitude 8.7 earthquake hit roughly the same area of the Indian Ocean but did not result in a major tsunami.

The first warning sign of a possible tsunami is the earthquake itself. However, tsunamis can strike thousands of kilometres away where the earthquake is felt only weakly or not at all. Also, in the minutes preceding a tsunami strike, the sea sometimes recedes temporarily from the coast, which was observed on the eastern earthquake rupture zone such as the coastlines of Aceh, Phuket island, and Khao Lak area in Thailand, Penang island of Malaysia, and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. This rare sight reportedly induced people, especially children, to visit the coast to investigate and collect stranded fish on as much as 2.5 km (1.6 mi) of exposed beach, with fatal results. [52] However, not all tsunamis cause this "disappearing sea" effect. In some cases, there are no warning signs at all: the sea will suddenly swell without retreating, surprising many people and giving them little time to flee.

One of the few coastal areas to evacuate ahead of the tsunami was on the Indonesian island of Simeulue, close to the epicentre. Island folklore recounted an earthquake and tsunami in 1907, and the islanders fled to inland hills after the initial shaking and before the tsunami struck. These tales and oral folklore from previous generations may have helped the survival of the inhabitants. [53] On Maikhao Beach in north Phuket City, Thailand, a 10-year-old British tourist named Tilly Smith had studied tsunamis in geography at school and recognised the warning signs of the receding ocean and frothing bubbles. She and her parents warned others on the beach, which was evacuated safely. [54] John Chroston, a biology teacher from Scotland, also recognised the signs at Kamala Bay north of Phuket, taking a busload of vacationers and locals to safety on higher ground.

Anthropologists had initially expected the aboriginal population of the Andaman Islands to be badly affected by the tsunami and even feared the already depopulated Onge tribe could have been wiped out. [55] Many of the aboriginal tribes evacuated and suffered fewer casualties, however. [56] [57] Oral traditions developed from previous earthquakes helped the aboriginal tribes escape the tsunami. For example, the folklore of the Onges talks of "huge shaking of ground followed by high wall of water". Almost all of the Onge people seemed to have survived the tsunami. [58]

Indonesia

The tsunami devastated the coastline of Aceh province, about 20 minutes after the earthquake. Banda Aceh, the closest major city suffered severe casualties, with about 167,000 people perishing. The sea receded and exposed the seabed, prompting locals to collect stranded fish and explore the area. Local eyewitnesses described three large waves, with the first wave rising gently to the foundation of the buildings, followed minutes later by a sudden withdrawal of the sea near the port of Ulee Lheue. This was succeeded by the appearance of two large black-coloured steep waves which then travelled inland into the capital city as a large turbulent bore. Eyewitnesses described the tsunami as a "black giant", "mountain" and a "wall of water". Video footage revealed torrents of black water, surging by windows of a two-story residential area situated about 3.2 km (2.0 mi) inland. Additionally, amateur footage recorded in the middle of the city captured an approaching black surge flowing down the city streets, full of debris, inundating them. [59]

The level of destruction was extreme on the northwestern areas of the city, immediately inland of the aquaculture ponds, and directly facing the Indian Ocean. The tsunami height was reduced from 12 m (39 ft) at Ulee Lheue to 6 m (20 ft) a further 8 km (5.0 mi) to the north-east. The inundation was observed to extend 3–4 km (1.9–2.5 mi) inland throughout the city. Within 2–3 km (1.2–1.9 mi) of the shoreline, houses, except for strongly-built reinforced concrete ones with brick walls, which seemed to have been partially damaged by the earthquake before the tsunami attack, were swept away or destroyed by the tsunami. [60] [61] The area toward the sea was wiped clean of nearly every structure, while closer to the river, dense construction in a commercial district showed the effects of severe flooding. The flow depth at the city was just at the level of the second floor, and there were large amounts of debris piled along the streets and in the ground-floor storefronts. In the seaside section of Ulee Lheue, the flow depths were over 9 m (30 ft). Footage showed evidence of back-flowing of the Aceh River, carrying debris and people from destroyed villages at the coast and transporting them up to 40 km (25 mi) inland. [62]

A group of small islands: Weh, Breueh, Nasi, Teunom, Bunta, Lumpat and Batee island lie just north of the capital city. The tsunami reached a run-up of 10–20 m (33–66 ft) on the western shoreline of Breueh Island and Nasi Island. Coastal villages were destroyed by the tsunami waves. On Pulau Weh, the island experienced strong surges in the port of Sabang, yet there was little damage with a reported runup values of 3–5 m (9.8–16.4 ft), most likely due to the island being sheltered from the direct tsunami attack by the islands to the south-west. [61]

Lhoknga is a small coastal community about 13 km (8.1 mi) south-west of Banda Aceh, located on a flat coastal plain in between two rainforest-covered hills, overlooking a large bay and famous for its large swathe of white sandy beach and surfing activities. The locals reported 10 to 12 tsunamis, with the second and third waves being the highest and most destructive. Interview with the locals revealed that the sea temporarily receded and exposed coral reefs. In the distant horizon, gigantic black waves about 30 m (98 ft) high made explosion-like sounds as it broke and approached the shore. The first wave came rapidly landward from the south-west as a turbulent bore about 0.5–2.5 m (1.6–8.2 ft) high. The second and third waves were 15–30 m (49–98 ft) high at the coast and appeared like gigantic surfing waves but "taller than the coconut trees and was like a mountain". [63] The second wave was the largest it came from the west-southwest within five minutes of the first wave. The tsunami stranded cargo ships, barges and destroyed a cement mining facility near the Lampuuk coast, where the tsunami reached the fourth level of the building. [5] [64] [65]

Meulaboh, a remote coastal city, was among the hardest hit by the tsunami. The waves arrived after the sea receded about 500 m (1,600 ft), followed by an advancing small tsunami. The second and third destructive waves arrived later, which exceeded the height of the coconut trees. The inundation distance is about 5 km (3.1 mi). Other towns on Aceh's west coast hit by the disaster included Leupung, Lhokruet, Lamno, Patek, Calang, and Teunom. Affected or destroyed towns on the region's north and east coast were Pidie Regency, Samalanga, Panteraja, and Lhokseumawe. The high fatality rate in the area was mainly due to lack of preparation of the community towards a tsunami and limited knowledge and education among the population regarding the natural phenomenon. Helicopter surveys showed entire settlements virtually destroyed with destruction within miles inland, and only some mosques left standing. [66]

The greatest run-up height of the tsunami was measured at a hill between Lhoknga and Leupung, on the western coast of the northern tip of Sumatra, near Banda Aceh, and reached 51 m (167 ft). [5] [67]

The tsunami heights in Sumatra: [60]

  • 15–30 m (49–98 ft) on the west coast of Aceh
  • 6–12 m (20–39 ft) on the Banda Aceh coast
  • 6 m (20 ft) on the Krueng Raya coast
  • 5 m (16 ft) on the Sigli coast
  • 3–6 m (9.8–19.7 ft) on the north coast of Weh Island directly facing the tsunami source
  • 3 m (9.8 ft) on the opposite side of the coast of Weh Island facing the tsunami

Sri Lanka

The island country of Sri Lanka, located about 1,700 km (1,100 mi) from Sumatra, was ravaged by the tsunami around 2 hours after the earthquake. The tsunami first struck the eastern coastline and subsequently refracted around the southern point of Sri Lanka (Dondra Head). The refracted tsunami waves then inundated the southwestern part of Sri Lanka after some of its energy was reflected from impact with the Maldives. [68] In Sri Lanka, the civilian casualties were second only to those in Indonesia, with approximately 35,000 killed by the tsunami. The eastern shores of Sri Lanka were the hardest hit since it faced the epicentre of the earthquake, while the southwestern shores were hit later, but the death toll was just as severe. The southwestern shores are a hotspot for tourists and fishing. [69] The degradation of the natural environment in Sri Lanka contributed to the high death tolls. Approximately 90,000 buildings and many wooden houses were destroyed. [69]

The tsunami arrived on the island as a small brown-orange colored flood. Moments later, the ocean floor was exposed to as much as 1 km (0.62 mi) in places, which was followed by a massive second and third tsunami wave. Amateur video recorded at the city of Galle showed a large deluge flooding the city, carrying debris and sweeping away people while in the coastal resort town of Beruwala, the tsunami appeared as a huge brown-orange colored bore which reached the first level of a hotel, causing destruction and taking people unaware. Other videos recorded showed that the tsunami appeared like a flood raging inland. The construction of seawalls and breakwaters reduced the power of waves at some locations.

The largest run-up measured was at 12.5 m (41 ft) with inundation distance of 390–1,500 m (1,280–4,920 ft) in Yala. [70] In Hambantota, tsunami run-ups measured 11 m (36 ft) with the greatest inundation distance of 2 km (1.2 mi). Tsunami run-up measurements along the Sri Lankan coasts are at 2.4–4.11 m (7 ft 10 in–13 ft 6 in). [70] [68] Tsunami waves measured on the east coast ranged from 4.5–9 m (15–30 ft) at Pottuvill to Batticaloa at 2.6–5 m (8 ft 6 in–16 ft 5 in) in the north-east around Trincomalee and 4–5 m (13–16 ft) in the west coast from Moratuwa to Ambalangoda.

Sri Lanka tsunami height survey:

  • 9 m (30 ft) at Koggala
  • 6 m (20 ft) at Galle port
  • 4.8 m (16 ft) around the Galle coast
  • 8.7 m (29 ft) at Nonagama
  • 4.9 m (16 ft) at Weligama
  • 4 m (13 ft) at Dodundawa
  • 4.7 m (15 ft) at Ambalangoda
  • 4.7 m (15 ft) at Hikkaduwa Fishery Harbour
  • 10 m (33 ft) at Kahawa
  • 4.8 m (16 ft) at North Beach of Beruwala
  • 6 m (20 ft) at Paiyagala

A regular passenger train operating between Maradana and Matara was derailed and overturned by the tsunami and claimed at least 1,700 lives, the largest single rail disaster death toll in history. [71] Estimates based on the state of the shoreline and a high-water mark on a nearby building place the tsunami 7.5–9 m (25–30 ft) above sea level and 2–3 m (6 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) higher than the top of the train.

Thailand

The tsunami travelled eastward through the Andaman Sea and hit the south-western coasts of Thailand, about 2 hours after the earthquake. Located about 500 km (310 mi) from the epicentre, at the time, the region was popular with tourists because of Christmas. Many of these tourists were caught off-guard by the tsunami, as they had no prior warning. The tsunami hit during high tide. Major locations damaged included the western shores of Phuket island, the resort town of Khao Lak in Phang Nga Province, the coastal provinces of Krabi, Satun, Ranong and Trang and small offshore islands like Ko Racha Yai, the Phi Phi islands, the Surin Islands and the Similan archipelago. Approximately 8,000 people were killed.

Thailand experienced the second largest tsunami run-up. The tsunami heights recorded: [72] [73]

  • 6–10 m (20–33 ft) in Khao Lak
  • 3–6 m (9.8–19.7 ft) along the west coast of Phuket island
  • 3 m (9.8 ft) along the south coast of Phuket island
  • 2 m (6 ft 7 in) along the east coast of Phuket island
  • 4–6 m (13–20 ft) on the Phi Phi Islands
  • 19.6 m (64 ft) at Ban Thung Dap
  • 5 m (16 ft) at Ramson
  • 6.8 m (22 ft) at Ban Thale Nok
  • 5 m (16 ft) at Hat Praphat (Ranong Coastal Resources Research Station)
  • 6.3 m (21 ft) at Thai Mueang District
  • 6.8 m (22 ft) at Rai Dan

The province of Phang Nga was the most affected area in Thailand. The quiet resort town of Khao Lak is located on a stretch of golden sandy beach, famed for its hotels overlooking the Andaman Sea and hilly rainforests. A video, documented by a local restaurant manager from a hill adjacent to the beach, showed that the tsunami's arrival was preceded by a sudden retreat of the sea exposing the seafloor. Many tourists and locals can be seen trying to gather fish and moments later, the tsunami can be seen suddenly as a turbulent bore and inundating a person, several people and the hotels inland. Another amateur video, captured by a German family at beach level, showed the tsunami appearing as a white horizontal line in the distant horizon, gradually becoming bigger (bore-like), engulfing a jet skier and lifting two police boats. [74] A maximum inundation of approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) was measured, the inundated depths were 4–7 m (13–23 ft) and there was evidence that the tsunami reached the third floor of a resort hotel. The tsunami in Khao Lak was bigger due to offshore coral reefs and shallow seafloor which caused the tsunami to pile-up. This was similar to eyewitness accounts of the tsunami at Banda Aceh.

Khao Lak also experienced the largest tsunami run-up height outside of Sumatra. [72] [ page needed ] . The highest-recorded tsunami run-up was measured 19.6 m (64 ft) at Ban Thung Dap, on the south-west tip of Ko Phra Thong Island and the second-highest at 15.8 m (52 ft) at Ban Nam Kim. [73] Moreover, the largest death toll occurred at Khao Lak, with about 5,000 people killed.

In addition, the tsunami inflicted damage to the popular resort town of Ao Nang in Krabi Province. Video footage showed that the tsunami appeared as multiple white surfs violently lifting up yachts, boats and crashing onto beaches. Footage captured at Koh Lanta showed a wall of water swamping the beach, while another video taken at another location showed a large surfing wave like tsunami approaching the shore, lifting up a yacht and flooding the beach. At Koh Sriboya, the tsunami advanced inland as a turbulent medium bore, while at Koh Phayam, Ranong Province, the tsunami appeared as a wall of water.

At Phuket Province, the island province's western beaches were struck by the tsunami. At Patong Beach, a tourist mecca, the tsunami first arrived as a small flood, which swept away cars and unexpected people. About 10 minutes later, the sea receded for a while before the tsunami arrived again as a large wall of water looming over the skyline and flooding the coast. Another video from Kamala Beach showed the tsunami flooding the ground floor of a restaurant sweeping away an elderly couple. On Karon Beach, Kamala Beach and Kata Beach, the tsunami came in like a surging flood inland carrying people and cars. On some locations, a coastal road was built which was higher than the shore, protecting a hotel which was behind it. On the east coast of Phuket Island, the tsunami height was about 2 m. In one river mouth, many boats were damaged. The tsunami moved counter-clockwise around Phuket Island, as was the case at Okushiri Island in the 1993 Hokkaido earthquake. According to interviews, the second wave was the largest. [72] The tsunami heights were 5–6 m (16–20 ft) and the inundated depth was about 2 m (6.6 ft). The tsunami surprised many tourists at Koh Racha Yai, where it flooded the resorts. About 250 people perished directly in the tsunami.

The Phi Phi Islands are a group of small islands that were affected by the tsunami. The north bay of Phi Phi Don Island opens to the north-west in the direction of the tsunami. The measured tsunami height on this beach was 5.8 m (19 ft). According to eyewitness accounts, the tsunami came from the north and south. The ground level was about 2 m above sea level, and there were many cottages and hotels. The south bay opens to the south-east and faces in the opposite direction from the tsunami. Furthermore, Phi Phi Le Island shields the port of Phi Phi Don Island. The measured tsunami height was 4.6 m (15 ft) in the port. [72] Amateur camcorder footage taken by Israeli tourists showed the tsunami advancing inland suddenly as a small flood, gradually becoming more powerful and engulfed the whole beach and resort, with a yacht boat can be seen carried by the tsunami out to sea.

Moreover, the tsunami was detected by scuba divers around offshore islands like the Similan Islands and the Surin Islands. The divers reported being caught in a violent, swirling current suddenly while underwater. Local camcorder footage showed the tsunami surging inland and flooding camping equipment at the Similan Islands while the tsunami caught tourists unaware at the Surin Islands, and dragging them out towards the sea.

India

The tsunami reached the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu along the southeastern coastline of the Indian mainland about 2 hours after the earthquake. At the same time, it arrived in the state of Kerala, on the southwestern coast. There were two to five tsunamis that coincided with the local high tide in some areas. [75] [76] [77] [78]

The tsunami runup height measured in mainland India by Ministry of Home Affairs includes: [78]

  • 3.4 m (11 ft) at Kerala, inundation distance of 0.5–1.5 km (0.31–0.93 mi) with 250 km (160 mi) of coastline affected
  • 4.5 m (15 ft) at the southern coastline of Tamil Nadu, inundation distance of 0.2–2 km (0.12–1.24 mi) with 100 km (62 mi) of coastline affected
  • 5 m (16 ft) at the eastern coastline of Tamil Nadu facing tsunami source, inundation distance of 0.4–1.5 km (0.25–0.93 mi) with 800 km (500 mi) of coastline affected
  • 4 m (13 ft) at Pondicherry, inundation distance of 0.2–2 km (0.12–1.24 mi) with 25 km (16 mi) of coastline affected
  • 2.2 m (7.2 ft) at Andhra Pradesh, inundation distance of 0.2–1 km (0.12–0.62 mi) with 985 km (612 mi) of coastline affected

Along the coast of Tamil Nadu, the 13 km (8.1 mi) Marina Beach in Chennai was battered by the tsunami which swept across the beach taking morning walkers unaware. Amateur video recorded taken at a resort beach showed the tsunami arriving as a large wall of water as it approached the coast and flooding it as it advanced inland. Besides that, a 10 m (33 ft) black muddy tsunami ravaged the city of Karaikal, where 492 lives were lost. The city of Pondicherry, protected by seawalls was relatively unscathed. Local video recorded that before the arrival of the tsunami, people can be seen swarming the beach to check on stranded fish from the exposed beach. Furthermore, at the coastal town of Kanyakumari, the seabed was exposed briefly before a large wall of water can be seen on the horizon and subsequently flooding the town. Other footage showed the tsunami dramatically crashed into the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. [78] The worst affected area in Tamil Nadu was Nagapattinam district, with 6,051 fatalities caused by a 5 m (16 ft) tsunami, followed by Cuddalore district, with many villages destroyed. [78] Most of the people killed were members of the fishing community. [78]

The state of Kerala experienced tsunami-related damage in three southern densely populated districts, Ernakulam, Alappuzha, and Kollam, due to diffraction of the waves around Sri Lanka. The southernmost district of Thiruvananthpuram, however, escaped damage, possibly due to the wide turn of the diffracted waves at the peninsular tip. Major damage occurred in two narrow strips of land bound on the west by the Arabian Sea and on the east by the Kerala backwaters. The waves receded before the first tsunami with the highest fatality reported from the densely populated Alappad panchayat (including the villages of Cheriya Azhikkal and Azhikkal) at Kollam district, caused by a 4 m (13 ft) tsunami. [78] A video recorded by locals showed the tsunami flooding the beach and villages causing despair amongst the villagers.

Many villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh were destroyed. In the Krishna district, the tsunami created havoc in Manginapudi and on Machalipattanam Beach. The most affected was Prakasham District, recording 35 deaths, with maximum damage at Singraikonda. [78] Given the enormous power of the tsunami, the fishing industry suffered the greatest. Moreover, the cost of damage in the transport sector was reported in the tens of thousands. [78]

The tsunami run-up was only 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in areas in the state of Tamil Nadu shielded by the island of Sri Lanka but was 4–5 m (13–16 ft) in coastal districts such as Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu directly across from Sumatra. On the western coast, the runup elevations were 4.5 m (15 ft) at Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu and 3.4 m (11 ft) each at Kollam and Ernakulam districts in Kerala. The time between the waves ranged from about 15 minutes to 90 minutes. [75] [77] [79] The tsunami varied in height from 2 m (6.6 ft) to 10 m (33 ft) based on survivors' accounts. [78] The tsunami travelled 2.5 km (1.6 mi) at its maximum inland at Karaikal, Puducherry. [78] The inundation distance varied between 1,006–500 m (3,301–1,640 ft) in most areas, except at river mouths, where it was more than 1 km (0.62 mi). Areas with dense coconut groves or mangroves had much smaller inundation distances, and those with river mouths or backwaters saw larger inundation distances. [ citation needed ] Presence of seawalls at the Kerala and Tamil Nadu coasts reduced the impact of the waves. However, when the seawalls were made of loose stones, the stones were displaced and carried a few metres inland. [75] [77] [79]

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Due to close proximity to the earthquake, the tsunami took just minutes to devastate the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Andaman Islands were moderately affected while the island of Little Andaman and the Nicobar Islands were severely affected by the tsunami.

In South Andaman island, based on local eyewitnesses, there were three tsunami waves, with the third being the most destructive. Flooding occurred at the coast and low-lying areas inland, which were connected to open sea through creeks. Inundation was observed, along the east coast of South Andaman Island, restricted to Chidiyatapu, Burmanallah, Kodiaghat, Beadnabad, Corbyn's cove and Marina Park/Aberdeen Jetty areas. Along the west coast, the inundation was observed around Guptapara, Manjeri, Wandoor, Collinpur and Tirur regions. Several near-shore establishments and numerous infrastructures such as seawalls and a 20 MW diesel-generated power plant at Bamboo Flat were destroyed. [80] At Port Blair, the water receded before the first wave, and the third wave was the tallest and caused the most damage.

Results of the tsunami survey in South Andaman along Chiriyatapu, Corbyn's Cove and Wandoor beaches: [ citation needed ]

  • 5 m (16 ft) in maximum tsunami height with a run-up of 4.24 m (13.9 ft) at Chiriyatapu Beach
  • 5.5 m (18 ft) in maximum tsunami height and run-up at Corbyn's Cove Beach
  • 6.6 m (22 ft) in maximum tsunami height and run-up of 4.63 m (15.2 ft) at Wandoor Beach

Meanwhile, in the Little Andaman, tsunami waves impinged on the eastern shore about 25 to 30 minutes after the earthquake in a four-wave cycle of which the fourth tsunami was the most devastating with a wave height of about 10 m (33 ft). The tsunami destroyed settlements at Hut Bay within a range of 1 km (0.62 mi) from the seashore. Run up level up to 3.8 m (12 ft) have been measured. [80]

In Malacca, located on the island of Car Nicobar, there were three tsunami waves. The sea was observed to rise suddenly before the onset of the first wave. The first wave came 5 minutes after the earthquake, preceded by a recession of the sea up to 600–700 m (2,000–2,300 ft). [ citation needed ] . The second and third waves came in 10 minutes intervals after the first wave. The third wave was the strongest, with a maximum tsunami wave height of 11 m (36 ft). Waves nearly three stories high devastated the Indian Air Force base, located just south of Malacca. The maximum tsunami wave height of 11 m (36 ft). [ citation needed ] Inundation limit was found to be up to 1.25 km (0.78 mi) inland. The impact of the waves was so severe that four oil tankers were thrown almost 800 m (2,600 ft) from the seashore near Malacca to the Air force colony main gate. [80] In Chuckchucha and Lapati, the tsunami arrived in a three-wave cycle with a maximum tsunami wave height of 12 m (39 ft).

In Campbell Bay of Great Nicobar Island, the tsunami waves hit the area three times with an inundation limit of 250–500 m (820–1,640 ft). A rise in sea level was observed before the first wave came within 5 minutes of the earthquake. The second and third waves came in 10-minute intervals after the first. The second wave was the strongest. The tsunami waves wreaked havoc in the densely populated Jogindar Nagar area, situated 13 km (8.1 mi) south of Campbell Bay. [ citation needed ] According to local accounts, [ attribution needed ] tsunami waves attacked the area three times. The first wave came five minutes after the mainshock (0629 hrs.) with a marginal drop in sea level. The second wave came 10 minutes after the first one with a maximum height of 4.8 m (16 ft) to 8 m (26 ft) and caused the major destruction. The third wave came within 15 minutes after the second with lower wave height. The maximum inundation limit due to tsunami water was about 500 m (1,600 ft). [80]

The worst affected island in the Andaman & Nicobar chain is Katchall Island, with 303 people confirmed dead and 4,354 missing out of a total population of 5,312. [81] [82] [83] The significant shielding of Port Blair and Campbell Bay by steep mountainous outcrops contributed to the relatively low wave heights at these locations, whereas the open terrain along the eastern coast at Malacca and Hut Bay contributed to the great height of the tsunami waves. [82] [84]

Reports of tsunami wave height: [85] [86]

  • 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) at Diglipur and Rangat at North Andaman Island
  • 8 m (26 ft) high at Campbell Bay on Great Nicobar Island
  • 10–12 m (33–39 ft) high at Malacca (in Car Nicobar Island) and at Hut Bay on Little Andaman Island
  • 3 m (9.8 ft) high at Port Blair on South Andaman Island

Maldives

The tsunami severely affected the Maldives at a distance of 2,500 km (1,600 mi) from the epicentre. Similar to Sri Lanka, survivors reported three waves with the second wave being the most powerful. Being rich in coral reefs, the Maldives provides an opportunity for scientists to assess the impact of a tsunami on coral atolls. The significantly lower tsunami impact on the Maldives compared to Sri Lanka is mostly due to the topography and bathymetry of the atoll chain with offshore coral reefs, deep channels separating individual atolls and its arrival within low tide which decreased the power of the tsunami. After the tsunami, there was some concern that the country might be submerged entirely and become uninhabitable. However, this was proven untrue. The highest tsunami wave measured was 4 m (13 ft) at Vilufushi Island. The tsunami arrived approximately 2 hours after the earthquake. The greatest tsunami inundation occurred at North Male Atoll, Male island at 250 m (820 ft) along the streets.

Local footage recorded showed the tsunami flooding the streets up to knee level in town, while another video taken at the beach showed the tsunami slowly flooding and gradually surging inland.

The Maldives tsunami wave analysis:

  • 1.3–2.4 m (4 ft 3 in–7 ft 10 in) at North Male Atoll, Male Island
  • 2 m (6 ft 7 in) at North Male Atoll, Huhule Island
  • 1.7–2.8 m (5 ft 7 in–9 ft 2 in) at South Male Atoll, Embudhu Finothu
  • 2.5–3.3 m (8 ft 2 in–10 ft 10 in) at Laamu Atoll, Fonadhoo Island
  • 2.2–2.9 m (7 ft 3 in–9 ft 6 in) at Laamu Atoll, Gan Island
  • 2.3–3 m (7 ft 7 in–9 ft 10 in) at North Male Atoll, Dhiffushi Island
  • 2.2–2.4 m (7 ft 3 in–7 ft 10 in) at North Male Atoll, Huraa Island
  • more than 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) at North Male Atoll, Kuda Huraa Island

Myanmar

In Myanmar, the tsunami caused only moderate damage, which arrived between 2 and 5.5 hours after the earthquake. Although the country's western Andaman Sea coastline lies at the proximity of the rupture zone, there were smaller tsunamis than the neighbouring Thai coast, because the main tsunami source did not extend to the Andaman Islands. Another factor is that some coasts of Taninthayi Division were protected by the Myeik Archipelago. Based on scientific surveys from Ayeyarwaddy Delta through Taninthayi Division, it was revealed that tsunami heights along the Myanmar coast were between 0.4–2.9 m (1 ft 4 in–9 ft 6 in). Eyewitnesses compared the tsunami with the "rainy-season high tide" although at most locations, the tsunami height was similar or smaller than the "rainy-season high tide" level. [87]

Tsunami survey heights: [ citation needed ]

  • 0.6–2.3 m (2 ft 0 in–7 ft 7 in) around the Ayeyarwady delta
  • 0.9–2.9 m (2 ft 11 in–9 ft 6 in) at Dawei area
  • 0.7–2.2 m (2 ft 4 in–7 ft 3 in) around Myeik
  • 0.4–2.6 m (1 ft 4 in–8 ft 6 in) around Kawthaung

Interviews with local people indicate that they did not feel the earthquake in Taninthayi Division or Ayeyarwaddy Delta. The 71 casualties can be attributed to poor housing infrastructure and additionally, the fact that the coastal residents in the surveyed areas live on flat land along the coast, especially in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta, and that there is no higher ground to which to evacuate. The tsunami heights from the 2004 December earthquake were not more than 3 m (9.8 ft) along the Myanmar coast, the amplitudes were slightly large off the Ayeyarwaddy Delta, probably because the shallow delta caused a concentration in tsunami energy. [87]

Somalia

The tsunami travelled 5,000 km (3,100 mi) west across the open ocean before striking the East African country of Somalia. Around 289 fatalities were reported in the Horn of Africa, drowned by four tsunami waves. The hardest-hit was a 650 km (400 mi) stretch of the Somalia coastline between Garacad (Mudug region) and Xaafuun (Bari region), which forms part of the Puntland province. Most of the victims were reported along the low-lying Xaafuun Peninsula. [88] The Puntland coast in northern Somalia was by far the area hardest hit by the waves to the west of the Indian subcontinent. The waves arrived around noon local time. [88]

Consequently, tsunami runup heights vary from 5 m (16 ft) to 9 m (30 ft) with inundation distances varying from 44 m (144 ft) to 704 m (2,310 ft). The maximum runup height of almost 9 m (30 ft) was recorded in Bandarbeyla. An even higher runup point was measured on a cliff near the town of Eyl, solely on an eyewitness account.

The highest death toll was in Hafun, with 19 dead and 160 people presumed missing out of its 5,000 inhabitants. This was the highest number of casualties in a single African town and the largest tsunami death toll in a single town to the west of the Indian subcontinent. In Xaafuun, small drawbacks were observed before the third and most powerful tsunami wave flooded the town. [88]

Other locations

The tsunami also reached Malaysia, mainly on the northern states such as Kedah, Perak and Penang and on offshore islands such as Langkawi island. Peninsular Malaysia was shielded by the full force of the tsunami due to the protection offered by the island of Sumatra, which lies just off the western coast. [89]

Bangladesh escaped major damage and deaths because the water displaced by the strike-slip fault was relatively little on the northern section of the rupture zone, which ruptured slowly. In Yemen, the tsunami killed two people with a maximum runup of 2 m (6.6 ft). [90]

The tsunami was detected in the southern parts of east Africa, where rough seas were reported, specifically on the eastern and southern coasts that face the Indian Ocean. A few other African countries also recorded fatalities one in Kenya, three in Seychelles, ten in Tanzania, and South Africa, where two were killed as a direct result of the tsunami—the furthest from the epicentre. [91] [92]

Tidal surges also occurred along the Western Australian coast that lasted for several hours, resulting in boats losing their moorings and two people needing to be rescued. [93]

Countries affected

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a total of 227,898 people died. [1] Measured in lives lost, this is one of the ten worst earthquakes in recorded history, as well as the single worst tsunami in history. Indonesia was the worst affected area, with most death toll estimates at around 170,000. [94] An initial report by Siti Fadilah Supari, the Indonesian Minister of Health at the time, estimated the death total to be as high as 220,000 in Indonesia alone, giving a total of 280,000 fatalities. [95] However, the estimated number of dead and missing in Indonesia were later reduced by over 50,000. In their report, the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition stated, "It should be remembered that all such data are subject to error, as data on missing persons especially are not always as good as one might wish". [6] A much higher number of deaths has been suggested for Myanmar based on reports from Thailand. [96]

The tsunami caused severe damage and deaths as far as the east coast of Africa, with the furthest recorded fatality directly attributed to the tsunami at Rooi-Els, close to Cape Town, 8,000 km (5,000 mi) from the epicentre. In total, eight people in South Africa died due to high sea levels and waves. [ citation needed ]

Relief agencies reported that one third of the dead appeared to be children. This was a result of the high proportion of children in the populations of many of the affected regions and because children were the least able to resist being overcome by the surging waters. Oxfam went on to report that as many as four times more women than men were killed in some regions because they were waiting on the beach for the fishers to return and looking after their children in the houses. [97]

States of emergency were declared in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Maldives. The United Nations estimated at the outset that the relief operation would be the costliest in human history. [ citation needed ] Then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that reconstruction would probably take between five and ten years. Governments and non-governmental organizations feared that the final death toll might double as a result of diseases, prompting a massive humanitarian response. [ citation needed ]

In addition to a large number of local residents, up to 9,000 foreign tourists (mostly Europeans) enjoying the peak holiday travel season were among the dead or missing, especially people from the Nordic countries. [98] The European nation hardest hit was Sweden, with a death toll of 543. Germany was close behind with 539 identified victims.

  • ^a This table refers only to countries directly affected by the tsunami, not to countries whose citizens were affected while overseas.
  • ^b Includes those reported under 'Confirmed'. If no separate estimates are available, the number in this column is the same as reported under 'Confirmed'.
  • ^c Does not include approximately 19,000 missing people initially declared by Tamil Tiger authorities from regions under their control.
  • ^d Data includes at least 2,464 foreigners.
  • ^e Does not include South African citizens who died outside of South Africa (e.g., tourists in Thailand).

Economic impact

The level of damage to the economy resulting from the tsunami depends on the scale examined. While local economies were devastated, the overall impact on the national economies was minor. The two main occupations affected by the tsunami were fishing and tourism. [116] The impact on coastal fishing communities and the people living there, some of the poorest in the region, has been devastating with high losses of income earners as well as boats and fishing gear. [117] [118] In Sri Lanka artisanal fishery, where the use of fish baskets, fishing traps, and spears are commonly used, is an important source of fish for local markets industrial fishery is the major economic activity, providing direct employment to about 250,000 people. In recent years the fishery industry has emerged as a dynamic export-oriented sector, generating substantial foreign exchange earnings. Preliminary estimates indicate that 66% of the fishing fleet and industrial infrastructure in coastal regions have been destroyed by the wave surges, which will have adverse economic effects both at local and national levels. [119]

While the tsunami destroyed many of the boats vital to Sri Lanka's fishing industry, it also created a demand for fibreglass reinforced plastic catamarans in boatyards of Tamil Nadu. Since over 51,000 vessels were lost to the tsunami, the industry boomed. However, the huge demand has led to lower quality in the process, and some important materials were sacrificed to cut prices for those who were impoverished by the tsunami. [120]

Some economists believe that damage to the affected national economies will be minor because losses in the tourism and fishing industries are a relatively small percentage of the GDP. However, others caution that damage to infrastructure is an overriding factor. In some areas drinking water supplies and farm fields may have been contaminated for years by saltwater from the ocean. [121] Even though only coastal regions were directly affected by the waters of the tsunami, the indirect effects have spread to inland provinces as well. Since the media coverage of the event was so extensive, many tourists cancelled vacations and trips to that part of the world, even though their travel destinations may not have been affected. This ripple effect could especially be felt in the inland provinces of Thailand, such as Krabi, which acted as a starting point for many other tourist destinations in Thailand. [122]

Both the earthquake and the tsunami may have affected shipping in the Malacca Straits, which separate Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, by changing the depth of the seabed and by disturbing navigational buoys and old shipwrecks. In one area of the Strait, water depths were previously up to 1,200 m (4,000 ft), and are now only 30 m (100 ft) in some areas, making shipping impossible and dangerous. These problems also made the delivery of relief aid more challenging. Compiling new navigational charts may take months or years. However, officials hope that piracy in the region will drop off as a result of the tsunami. [123]

Countries in the region appealed to tourists to return, pointing out that most tourist infrastructure is undamaged. However, tourists were reluctant to do so for psychological reasons. Even beach resorts in parts of Thailand which were untouched by the tsunami were hit by cancellations. [124]

Environmental impact

Beyond the heavy toll on human lives, the Indian Ocean earthquake has caused an enormous environmental impact that will affect the region for many years to come. It has been reported that severe damage has been inflicted on ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, forests, coastal wetlands, vegetation, sand dunes and rock formations, animal and plant biodiversity and groundwater. Also, the spread of solid and liquid waste and industrial chemicals, water pollution and the destruction of sewage collectors and treatment plants threaten the environment even further, in untold ways. The environmental impact will take a long time and significant resources to assess. [125]

According to specialists, the main effect is being caused by poisoning of the freshwater supplies and of the soil by saltwater infiltration and a deposit of a salt layer over arable land. It has been reported that in the Maldives, 16 to 17 coral reef atolls that were overcome by sea waves are without fresh water and could be rendered uninhabitable for decades. Uncountable wells that served communities were invaded by sea, sand, and earth and aquifers were invaded through porous rock. Salted-over soil becomes sterile, and it is difficult and costly to restore for agriculture. It also causes the death of plants and important soil micro-organisms. Thousands of rice, mango, and banana plantations in Sri Lanka were destroyed almost entirely and will take years to recover. On the island's east coast, the tsunami contaminated wells on which many villagers relied for drinking water. The Colombo-based International Water Management Institute monitored the effects of saltwater and concluded that the wells recovered to pre-tsunami drinking water quality one-and-a-half years after the event. [126] The IWMI developed protocols for cleaning wells contaminated by saltwater these were subsequently officially endorsed by the World Health Organization as part of its series of Emergency Guidelines. [127]

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is working with governments of the region in order to determine the severity of the ecological impact and how to address it. [ needs update ] [128] UNEP has decided to earmark a US$1 million emergency fund and to establish a Task Force to respond to requests for technical assistance from countries affected by the tsunami. [129] In response to a request from the Maldivian Government, the Australian Government sent ecological experts to help restore marine environments and coral reefs—the lifeblood of Maldivian tourism. Much of the ecological expertise has been rendered from work with the Great Barrier Reef, in Australia's northeastern waters.

Historical context

The last major tsunami in the Indian Ocean was about A.D. 1400. [130] [131] In 2008, a team of scientists working on Phra Thong, a barrier island along the hard-hit west coast of Thailand, reported evidence of at least three previous major tsunamis in the preceding 2,800 years, the most recent from about 700 years ago. A second team found similar evidence of previous tsunamis in Aceh, a province at the northern tip of Sumatra radiocarbon dating of bark fragments in the soil below the second sand layer led the scientists to estimate that the most recent predecessor to the 2004 tsunami probably occurred between A.D. 1300 and 1450. [132]

The 2004 earthquake and tsunami combined is the world's deadliest natural disaster since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake. The earthquake was the third-most-powerful earthquake recorded since 1900. The deadliest-known earthquake in history occurred in 1556 in Shaanxi, China, with an estimated death toll of 830,000, though figures from this period may not be as reliable. [133]

Before 2004, the tsunami created in both Indian and Pacific Ocean waters by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, thought to have resulted in anywhere from 36,000 to 120,000 deaths, had probably been the deadliest in the region. In 1782, about 40,000 people are thought to have been killed by a tsunami (or a cyclone) in the South China Sea. [134] The deadliest tsunami before 2004 was Italy's 1908 Messina earthquake on the Mediterranean Sea where the earthquake and tsunami killed about 123,000. [135]

Other effects

Many health professionals and aid workers have reported widespread psychological trauma associated with the tsunami. [136] Traditional beliefs in many of the affected regions state that a relative of the family must bury the body of the dead, and in many cases, no body remained to be buried. Women in Aceh required a special approach from foreign aid agencies, and continue to have unique needs. [ citation needed ]

The hardest-hit area, Aceh, is a religiously conservative Islamic society and has had no tourism nor any Western presence in recent years due to the insurgency between the Indonesian military and Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Some believe that the tsunami was divine punishment for lay Muslims shirking their daily prayers or following a materialistic lifestyle. Others have said that Allah was angry that Muslims were killing each other in an ongoing conflict. [137] Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-Munajjid attributed it to divine retribution against non-Muslim vacationers "who used to sprawl all over the beaches and in pubs overflowing with wine" during Christmas break. [138]

The widespread devastation caused by the tsunami led GAM to declare a cease-fire on 28 December 2004 followed by the Indonesian government, and the two groups resumed long-stalled peace talks, which resulted in a peace agreement signed 15 August 2005. The agreement explicitly cites the tsunami as a justification. [139]

In a poll conducted in 27 countries, 15% of respondents named the tsunami the most significant event of the year. Only the Iraq War was named by as many respondents. [140] [141] The extensive international media coverage of the tsunami, and the role of mass media and journalists in reconstruction, were discussed by editors of newspapers and broadcast media in tsunami-affected areas, in special video-conferences set up by the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre. [142]

The tsunami left both the people and government of India in a state of heightened alert. On 30 December 2004, four days after the tsunami, Terra Research notified the India government that its sensors indicated there was a possibility of 7.9 to 8.1 magnitude tectonic shift in the next 12 hours between Sumatra and New Zealand. [143] In response, the Indian Minister of Home Affairs announced that a fresh onslaught of deadly tsunami was likely along the southern Indian coast and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, even as there was no sign of turbulence in the region. [143] The announcement generated panic in the Indian Ocean region and caused thousands to flee their homes, which resulted in jammed roads. [144] The announcement was a false alarm, and the Home Affairs minister withdrew their announcement. [144] On further investigation, the India government learned that the consulting company Terra Research was run from the home of a self-described earthquake forecaster who had no telephone listing and maintained a website where he sold copies of his detection system. [145]

The tsunami had a severe humanitarian and political impact in Sweden. The hardest-hit country outside Asia, Sweden, lost 543 tourists, mainly in Thailand. The Persson Cabinet was heavily criticized for its inaction. [146]

Smith Dharmasaroja, a meteorologist who had predicted that an earthquake and tsunami "is going to occur for sure" way back in 1994, [147] [148] was assigned the development of the Thai tsunami warning system. The Indian Ocean Tsunami warning system was formed in early 2005 to provide an early warning of tsunamis for inhabitants around the Indian Ocean coasts. [149]

The changes in the distribution of masses inside the Earth due to the earthquake had several consequences. It displaced the North Pole by 25 mm (0.98 in). It also slightly changed the shape of the Earth, specifically by decreasing Earth's oblateness by about one part in 10 billion, consequentially increasing Earth's rotation a little and thus shortening the length of the day by 2.68 microseconds. [150]

A great deal of humanitarian aid was needed because of widespread damage to the infrastructure, shortages of food and water, and economic damage. Epidemics were of particular concern due to the high population density and tropical climate of the affected areas. The main concern of humanitarian and government agencies was to provide sanitation facilities and fresh drinking water to contain the spread of diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis A and hepatitis B .

There was also a great concern that the death toll could increase as disease and hunger spread. However, because of the initial quick response, this was minimized. [151]

In the days following the tsunami, significant effort was spent in burying bodies hurriedly due to fear of disease spreading. However, the public health risks may have been exaggerated, and therefore this may not have been the best way to allocate resources. The World Food Programme provided food aid to more than 1.3 million people affected by the tsunami. [152]

Nations all over the world provided over US$14 billion in aid for damaged regions, [153] with the governments of Australia pledging US$819.9 million (including a US$760.6 million aid package for Indonesia), Germany offering US$660 million, Japan offering US$500 million, Canada offering US$343 million, Norway and the Netherlands offering both US$183 million, the United States offering US$35 million initially (increased to US$350 million), and the World Bank offering US$250 million. Also, Italy offered US$95 million, increased later to US$113 million of which US$42 million was donated by the population using the SMS system [154] Four countries, Australia, India, Japan and the United States formed an ad-hoc corroborative group, and it was the origin of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. [155]

According to USAID, the US has pledged additional funds in long-term U.S. support to help the tsunami victims rebuild their lives. On 9 February 2005, President Bush asked Congress to increase the U.S. commitment to a total of US$950 million. Officials estimated that billions of dollars would be needed. Bush also asked his father, former President George H. W. Bush, and former President Bill Clinton to lead a U.S. effort to provide private aid to the tsunami victims. [156]

In mid-March, the Asian Development Bank reported that over US$4 billion in aid promised by governments was behind schedule. Sri Lanka reported that it had received no foreign government aid, while foreign individuals had been generous. [157] Many charities were given considerable donations from the public. For example, in the United Kingdom, the public donated roughly £330 million sterling (nearly US$600 million). This considerably outweighed the allocation by the government to disaster relief and reconstruction of £75 million and came to an average of about £5.50 (US$10) donated by every citizen. [158] [159]

In August 2006, fifteen local aid staff working on post-tsunami rebuilding were found executed in north-east Sri Lanka after heavy fighting, the main umbrella body for aid agencies in the country said. [160]


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