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What happened

On the morning of 26 December 2004, an earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter Scale originated about 150 kilometres northwest of Sumatra, Indonesia. This massive tremor distorted the ocean floor, forcing the overlying water into waves as high as 25 meters (80 feet), and propelled them towards coasts in all directions along the Indian Ocean rim. This covered coastal countries of Asia and Africa.

This was a ‘Tsunami.’ A Japanese word, ‘Tsunami’ means ‘harbour wave.’ It refers to a wave in an ocean or lake that is created by an underwater event.

Much of the tsunami’s devastation was on the coasts of South Asia and South East Asia – with India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand suffering the most damage. Many coastal villages and towns in these countries were completely destroyed or badly damaged. Among the other affected countries were Malaysia, Maldives and Myanmar in Asia, and Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania in Africa.

Being responsible for over 300,000 deaths and millions of displacements, the 2004 Tsunami was one of the worst known natural disasters of all time. It tore through whole seaside communities and often devastated them irreparably. Despite help from all over the world, many of those affected are still trying to rebuild their shattered lives.

Click here for Reuters map of the tsunami

Click here for BBC’s animation of the tsunami

Click here for BBC’s timeline of the unfolding tsunami disaster

Click here for Inter Press Service dossier on tsunami news as reported by Asian reporters

 

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