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The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

#13 Science in History

26 December 2004

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami were one of the largest natural disasters ever recorded. It struck northern Sumatra causing devastating effects across the coastal and partially in mainland areas of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. It is estimated that a quarter of a million people lost their lives in this tragedy.

The sudden displacement of the Earth's tectonic plates resulted in an earthquake recorded as 9.1-9.3 on the Mercalli intensity scale, making it the third-largest ever recorded. The movement of the tectonic plates caused a massive tsunami with waves as high as 30 metres, which caused immense destruction and loss of life.

Tsunami inundation height can be seen on a house in Banda Aceh

The effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami were catastrophic. Coastal areas were hit the hardest, with entire villages and towns being destroyed. Over a million people were displaced due to the destruction and many more were left without the basic necessities of life, such as food and shelter. In addition, thousands of people were killed and injured by the earthquake and tsunami itself.

The world responded to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami with an outpouring of support. Charitable organizations from all over the world sent aid and assistance to the affected areas. The United Nations also sent a Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team to help coordinate the relief efforts. Many of the areas affected by the disaster are, however, still struggling to recover and rebuild.

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