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The Great Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 26,2004

The US Geologic Survey reported that at 7:58:53 AM local time on Sunday, December 26, 2004 a magnitude 9.0 earthquake ruptured the seafloor 250 km (155 miles) SSE of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, generating a tsunami that killed more than 280,000 people living near the coast in Sumatra, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and the east coast of Africa. This was the fourth largest earthquake in the world since 1900 and the largest since the 1964 Prince William Sound earthquake in Alaska.

What Happened?


The videos listed below show the tsunami coming ashore in several regions.They show very destructive waves causing many deaths. As you watch remember the many who drowned in the waves. I show them here to help you learn about tsunamis and how to protect yourself if you are ever so unfortunate as to be caught in a future tsunami.

The videos were downloaded from Waveofdestruction. The same videos, but with better descriptions, are at Asian Tsunami Videos. In watching the videos, pay particular attention to the shape of the wave as it comes ashore, its period, and how it causes damage and erosion. Where are these areas? How far are they from the earhquake? Does a tsunami have one or many waves? Is the first the largest? Do they come without warning?

  1. BBC Video of Tsunami hitting Banda Aceh.
  2. Video of tsunami at Banda Aceh from Waveofdestruction (18 MBytes).
  3. Video of tsunami at Patung Beach from Waveofdestruction (10 MBytes).
  4. Video of tsunami at Phuket from Waveofdestruction (12 MBytes).
  5. Video of tsunami at Phuket 2 from Waveofdestruction (12 MBytes).
  6. Video of tsunami at Kao Lak from Waveofdestruction (3 MBytes).
  7. Video of tsunami at Kao Lak 2 from Waveofdestruction (6 MBytes).
  8. Video of tsunami at Phi-Phi Island from Waveofdestruction (19 MBytes).
  9. Video of tsunami at Kanyakumari, India from Waveofdestruction (4 MBytes).
  10. Video of tsunami at Thai Resort from Waveofdestruction (13 MBytes).
  11. Video of tsunami at Sri Lankan Resort from Waveofdestruction (6 MBytes).
  12. Video of tsunami at Sri Lankan Resort-2 from Waveofdestruction (6 MBytes).

First-Hand Accounts

  1. Our Honeymoon in the Maldives, a tale from survivor of the tsunami in the Maldives with photos.
  2. We were definitely terrified for our lives, and trapped for 24 hours without any water or electricity, a tale from a survivor on Phuket Island, and
  3. David Rucker and Sandi Thompson stood above the beach at a Ko Kho Khao Island resort in southern Thailand and stared for several minutes at the churning white line on the horizon, a tale from a survivor at Ko Kho Khao Island.
  4. Professor Chris Chapman, formerly Professor of Geophysics at Cambridge University, and Professor of Physics at the Universities of Toronto and Alberta writes his account along with more seismology than you might want to know, but he is a theoretical seismologist.

    Chris and Lillian Chapman.
    From Nature (27 January 2005 issue, page 354).

Does knowledge of tsunamis help you survive one? Is the nature of the tsunami the same in each location? If not, how do they differ?

Satellite Images of the Destruction

  1. Khao Lak, Thailand.
  2. Lhoknga, Aceh Province, Indonesia.
  3. Gleebruk, a small town located roughly 50 km (31 miles) from Banda Aceh, Indonesia.
  4. Kwate-tu-Kwage, Little Andaman Island.
  5. Chennai, a harbor city on the southeastern Indian coast.
  6. North of Phuket, Thailand.

    Image of area north of Phuket Thailand
    Click on image to zoom in.

What types of destruction and erosion do you see in the images? Does the extent of the damage depend on distance from the earthquake?

Revised on: 3 August, 2009

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