Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Tsunami on Boxing Day 2004

Five years ago today, December 26, a 9.15-magnitude undersea earthquake off the Indonesian coast triggered a tsunami that was a truly international catastrophe. The tsunami struck 13 countries, killing 226,000 people of 40 nationalities, 166,000 alone dead or missing in Aceh.

Time Magazine reported that five years later, a first-time visitor to the worst-affected countries — Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand — might find the wave's terrible path hard to detect, thanks to a multinational, multi-billion-dollar reconstruction effort. Across Aceh, thousands of houses were built with foreign aid in what were once wastelands. In Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, new homes surround a 2,600-ton ship pushed a mile inland by the Tsunami. It is now a tourist attraction.

Below are pictures (Then and Now) of two of the affected places. More can be viewed on

Flattened Towns in Banda Aceh, Indonesia
A lone mosque stands among what is left of a village

One Year Late
Acehnese men enjoy an afternoon at the beach a year after the tsunami. Male tsunami survivors reportedly outnumbered women by a ratio of about three to one in some villages.

Endless Carnage in Sri Lanka
Rescue workers remove bodies from the wreckage of the "Queen of the Sea," which was derailed by the tsunami in Paraliya, Sri Lanka. The crash left almost all 1,200 passengers dead, and may have been the worst rail accident in history.

Fascination and Remembrance
A woman uses a portable videocamera to tape the wreckage of the "Queen of the Sea." The site became a tourist attraction.

Where were you on that fateful day and what were you doing? Do you remember? It may seem quite sometime ago but events like these have a strange way of triggering us of what we were doing or where we were then. Maybe the memory escapes us but for those who were affected, that memory will stay with them all their life. But life goes on..


  1. i was in newcastle on the 22nd dec until the 28 dec 2004. It was supposed to be summer but it was gloomy n rainy. Even the sea was rough. May be these were part of the signs of tsunami.

  2. Thank goodness we were not badly affected. But I felt sorry for the other families. What a terrible day it was. :(

  3. On boxing day I was in OUG shopping think its Yaohan then, an sms came in saying Penang was hit. Oh my, 5 years has gone by so fast.

  4. Wenn, so you were on holiday in Australia then. You may be right about the weather then matching the effects of the tsunami.

    Tekkaus, you're right there though we had some fatalities too and damage but not as bad as others.

    Bananaz, anyone you know affected? I remember watching the news closely for updates. CNN was repeatedly showing the high waves. Gave me the jitters then.

  5. I agree with Bananaz. It's amazing how fast 5 years has gone.

    For a while after the tsunami, I was actually a little paranoid about coastal areas, would watch for signs like the tide going down.

    I remember that photo with the mosque untouched while he rest were wipeout. Act of God?

  6. Anniversary dates make people sit up a little. People who visit places hit by that tsunami would be wary of being there on Dec 26. Similarly, stock market investors would be extra careful on or around Oct 19.

    Yeah, five years seem a long time ago, more so for those not affected.

    Act of God? Miracles are known to happen in all religions.

  7. I was at was the day after Christmas, and we were preparing to go to Negombo beach for a day out with the extended family...I am never questioning GOD for making me oversleep ever again..