16 Years After Indian Ocean Tsunami, a Look Back at the Carnage

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 2,28,000 in over 14 countries.

2 min read

(This story was first published on 26 December 2017. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives on the anniversary of the deadly tsunami that hit Chennai in 2004.)

On the fateful day of 26 December 2004, an earthquake measuring 9.1 triggered the biggest tsunami in memory. The earthquake was registered by the Geo-Physical Center, Jakarta off the Sumatran coast at around 8 am local time (06:30 IST). Sixteen years after, the painful memories of the ill-fated day continue to haunt those who witnessed it.

Massive waves, upto 40 feet, travelling at the speed of 800 km per hour, wreaked havoc in 15 different countries killing more than 2,00,000 people.

In total, 14 countries were affected by the disaster. These were India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bangladesh, South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles.


Taking the brunt was Indonesia with loss of lives exceeding 1,50,000 followed by Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

The disaster occurred when thousands of tourists from across the world had visited South Asian countries to celebrate Christmas.

According to Indian Express, over 10,000 people were killed in the disaster in India. The reasons were mainly attributed to poor infrastructure, huge populations settled in coastal areas and weak warning systems.

As per the official count, 10,136 people died in India with majority of the casualties reported from Tamil Nadu, the report added. However, unofficial estimates peg the number at over 18,000 people.

In addition, a total of 36,09,000 were impacted in mainland states – Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Over $14 billion was received in 2004 as aid, the report added.

Andaman and Nicobar islands, the second most affected region in India, had its official death toll reach over 1,300, with over 5,500 missing, the report added.

The only active volcano in India, Barren 1, erupted on 30 December as a result of the seismic activity.

Established as India’s southernmost defence post, the Car Nicobar island was devastated in the disaster. One hundred and sixteen IAF officers and men, their wives and children died in the disaster, Rediff reported.

Subsequent research revealed that millions were displaced and the environment suffered immense damage.

(With inputs from Indian Express)

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Topics:  Indonesia   Earthquakes   Tsunami Warning 

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