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Indian Ocean tsunami

Updated: Tue, 15 Dec 2009

At A GlanceBack to top

The Indian Ocean tsunami, the deadliest on record, smashed into 13 Asian and African countries on Dec. 26, 2004, swallowing up lives and homes and changing the coastline forever.

  • 226,000 dead or missing
  • 1.8 million people displaced
  • Donors pledge $13.6 billion

Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and the Maldives were the worst affected.

The earthquake which triggered the giant waves measured 9.15 in magnitude and lasted eight minutes.

In DetailBack to top

The Indian Ocean tsunami left 226,000 people dead or missing and another 1.8 million homeless when it slammed into a dozen Asian and African countries on Dec. 26, 2004.

An eight minute magnitude 9.15 earthquake, the world's strongest in four decades, triggered the killer waves that tore up roads, ports, homes and fields. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, the Andaman Islands and the Maldives were the worst-affected countries.

The northern Indonesian province of Aceh bore the brunt of the disaster with 166,000 people dead or missing and more than half a million homeless.

The tsunami generated a record amount of aid - more than $13 billion. Governments and aid agencies say the unprecedented generosity helped them meet emergency needs fast, but reconstruction was slower than hoped.

Most of the reconstruction work has now been completed and many international aid agencies have closed their tsunami operations.

Reuters AlertNet tracked how much money governments, multilateral agencies and the public donated after the tsunami in its Tsunami AidWatch project.

Below are some stories and factboxes on the relief and reconstruction effort:

Following the tsunami, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission began coordinating efforts to create an Indian Ocean tsunami early warning system.

A large network of seismographic centres, national warning centres or agencies, coastal and deep-ocean stations is now in place across the Indian Ocean to detect potential tsunamis and pass on warnings to communities.

Gaps remain in the system - most significantly at the community level - and experts say more coordination is needed to ensure national centres are communicating with each other.

LinksBack to top

This documentary, "Surviving the Tsunami - Stories of Hope", has inspiring stories of survivors, aid workers and a Reuters photographer. It was produced by Thomson Reuters and the Red Cross for the fifth anniversary of the tsunami.

With so many donors and agencies involved in relief and reconstruction, it's impossible to list them all here, but the Asian Development Bank and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies sites are worth a look.

The World Bank set up a comprehensive tsunami micro-site. There's a lot on damage assessment and reconstruction as you'd expect, but also some good human interest features and slideshows.

Several useful reports published in 2009 look at lessons learned from the international response to the tsunami, including The Tsunami Legacy by the Tsunami Global Lessons Learned Project and A ripple in development? by the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition.

Earlier reports include Action Aid's look at human rights in the tsunami recovery operation - an interesting read and highlights issues often overlooked in reporting on disasters.

In the run-up to the second anniversary Britain's Independent newspaper printed a useful article on why so much aid money was sitting in the bank when two thirds of survivors were still waiting for permanent homes.

Forced Migration Review devoted an edition to the tsunami, examining a host of issues ignored by mainstream media. These included the question of whether the tsunami diverted funding from other crises and a look at the plight of migrant workers caught up in the disaster who were ignored by governments and aid agencies.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has a film on the tsunami which you can download to watch online.

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