Sixteen years ago, on this exact date South Asia braved what was probably going to be one of the most devastating natural calamities ever, a tsunami that rose to the enormous height of about 100 feet that was triggered by an earthquake of an equally huge magnitude of 9.1 on the Richter's scale.
With Sumatra in Indonesia being the epicentre, the aftermath of it triggered a massive tsunami that lashed and claimed lives in Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia. It claimed the highest number of lives for any tsunami in recorded history—an estimated 2,27,000 across 14 countries.
Reuters reported the death toll rose with each passing day as bodies littered the streets, waiting to be collected, and others continued to wash ashore, decaying among piles of debris. Hospitals and morgues were also struggling to cope with injured and bewildered victims and bloated corpses.
In India, nearly 42,000 people, or close to 10,000 families, were rendered homeless by the waves that struck islands off the eastern coast. More than 3,500 people were killed and nearly 9,000 died on the mainland, mostly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
The tsunami garnered an enormous international response, with an estimated $13.6 billion in official aid and private donations pledged for the recovery. The victims, who lost their lives had no forewarning given as there was no proper resources for such a system. However, since that tragedy, a lot of dollars have gone into developing a vast network of seismic and tsunami information centres, setting up sea and coastal instruments and erecting warning towers.
As December 26 marks the 16th year of the tragedy, netizens remembered and paid tributes to those who lost their lives to the natural calamity.
I was a grade 9 student and was sleeping as it was a Sunday! It was around 8.50am umma woke me up and I could already hear people screaming and running. #Tsunami2004 https://t.co/qGuQnVoHS1— Sajjath Samly (@samly_19) December 26, 2020
Remembering the lost souls, their loved ones and all those who experienced the tragedies of that day and never got any help to heal from inside. May Allah ease our pain & grant the lost souls Jannatul Firudhous ✨ #Tsunami2004— Nasra Ibrahim (@ThuiNias) December 26, 2020
Took a flight 8-9 hours before the Tsunami hit from this airport to Colombo. I can’t recall a bigger natural disaster than this in my lifetime. #Tsunami2004 pic.twitter.com/Kh9wzq7Qqm— Eedham Rasheed (@EedhamRasheed) December 26, 2020
Happy to be alive and proud that I saved some lives in Nothern #SriLanka when the Boxing day #Tsunami hit our town #Valvettithurai in 2004 - that was history https://t.co/ZatM1ugJWP— Mahendran Kumar (@avirvisva) December 26, 2020
I feel a tinge of sadness when I think about The Asian Tsunami on Boxing Day December 26 2004 that took the lives of 227,898 people. I remember it well. I hope that this disaster will not occur ever again. — Lim Phaik Suat (@monkeyvirgo) December 26, 2020
Time flies. Already 16 years, but the horror of tsunami never really go away. People said that time will heal the wound. But it is not true. The hole in my heart because of this devastating tragedy is still there. The only thing I can do is live with that wound#tsunami2004— Cut Sri Rozanna (Aya) (@RozannaCut) December 26, 2020
Due to the latest technological developments in understanding tectonic plate movements on land and under oceans, scientists in India can now predict and project movements in Indian ocean through real-time seismic monitoring to help with early warnings for the vulnerable areas.
India is also now the first country to implement ‘Tsunami Ready’ in the Indian Ocean Region and Odisha on Friday became the first state with two of its villages- Venkatraipur in Ganjam district and Noliasahi in Jagatsingpur district to get the UNESCO's tsunami ready certification at a virtual event.
(With inputs from Reuters)