“Survivors of Asia’s 2004 tsunami and relatives of its 226,000 victims cried and prayed as they gathered along Indian Ocean shorelines on Friday for memorials to mark the 10th anniversary of a disaster that still leaves an indelible mark on the region.
When a 9.15-magnitude quake opened a fault line deep beneath the ocean on Dec. 26 a decade ago, it triggered a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet) which crashed ashore in more than a dozen countries, wiping some communities off the map in seconds.
Memorials were held in the worst-affected countries – India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia – where monks, imams and priests held ceremonies to honor those who perished.”
“Ten years ago today, over 35,000 people perished during the catastrophic tsunami that hit the coasts of the North-East and South of the island of Sri Lanka. The United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said five days after the disaster that almost two thirds of those killed were in the Tamil homeland of the North-East. “The North-East is the region worst affected by the tsunami,” the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) said in a joint report.”
“For years, Rob and Paul Forkan were reluctant to set foot in Sri Lanka where their parents, Kevin and Sandra, died in the Indian Ocean tsunami 10 years ago – one of the world’s worst natural disasters on record.
The brothers, then 17 and 15 respectively, were spending Christmas with their family in Weligama, a small fishing town on the south coast of Sri Lanka. On that Sunday morning, the family woke up to screams and huge waves crashing through their hotel rooms. The parents struggled against the rush of water to put the two youngest children, Mattie and Rosie, up on the roof.”
No one was aware and no one was prepared when the first waves of the tsunami struck Sri Lanka’s east coast at 6:40 a.m. on 26 December 2004. The tsunami was not done. It was still roaring and thought it would be much later before it thundered across Sri Lanka’s western coast, even then, no warning message was sent out. As a result, more than 35,000 people lost their lives.
On the morning of December 26, 2004, a 30 meter high wave struck 1000 kilometers of Sri Lankan coastline without warning, devastating hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods. The tsunami, which was the most devastating natural disaster in Sri Lanka’s history, resulted in losses of over $1 billion in assets and $330 million in potential output, according to government estimates. Approximately 35,000 people died or went missing. The damage included 110,000 houses, of which 70,000 were completely destroyed. Around 250,000 families lost their means of support.