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Earthquakes and Tsunamis: 26th December 2004

The tragic effects of earthquakes and tsunamis were brought to the world's attention o­n 26th December, 2004, by the massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0......

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The 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake

News about this disaster is changing daily. You can find out more about the latest developments at 

This was an undersea earthquake of moment magnitude 9.0 that struck the Indian Ocean off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia o­n December 26, 2004 00:58:50 UTC

Epicentre map

Location of the Earthquake, December 26th,  2004

It was the largest earthquake in the world since the 9.2-magnitude Good Friday Earthquake which struck Alaska, USA in 1964, and the fourth largest since 1900. Thousands were killed by the resulting tsunamis, which were as high as 10 m (approx. 33 ft) in some locations and struck within three hours of the quake.

The earthquake triggered massive tsunamiswhich struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean. However, Pacific Ocean coasts were not affected. The death toll from the tsunamis and the resultant floods was reported to be more than 13,200, with thousands of persons reported missing.

In addition to the large number of local residents, some tourists during the busy Christmas holiday travel season were among the casualties.

States of emergency were declared in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Maldives.

( The information above is derived from the free Open Source resource Wikipedia   Wikipedia contributors,, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, 27th December, 0150 GMT, [accessed 27th December 2004] )

Updates : 28th December 2004

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Country  Deaths*



 Andaman and Nicobar Islands 900 Coastal villages and roads washed away Air force planes delivering supplies. Many communities remain isolated
 Bangladesh 2 Small regions. Most of the population live inland  No support requested
Burma64Very little information is being made available from the government. Reports of some islands being flooded....The government has not requested international aid.
 Aceh, near the epicentre, suffered large building damage, and devastation by the Tsumanis.  Thousands left homeless UN to send disaster teams. Political problems in this region could cause delays
 India8800 Coastal regions of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Keral affected. Fishing ports devastated.Coordination of relief  is being reduced by the effects of the Tsunami o­n the capital city of  Tamil Nadu
Maldives82Significant damage to many islands. Some islands have been evacuated.
Coastal tourist centres have been destroyed.
State of emergency issued by the government. Evacuation procedures for some islands in operation.
 Malaysia68  Many tourists have been reported to have been swept away from the beaches. Hotels and seaside resorts destroyed.Australia is providing freight aircraft. The aircraft will carry fresh water, blankets and water purification supplies.
 Somalia300 Almost 3750 miles from the epicentre, Somalia suffered extensive damage by the Tsunami. Coastal villages and towns reported to have been destroyed. UNICEF sending teams to assist with relief procedures. Political instability in this country could give raise to problems with rapid and effective aid measures.
 Thailand4000+ Coastal resorts devastated. Estimated 7300 people have been injured US offered to send troops to assist with aid and relief efforts.
 Sri Lanka30500 Extensive devastation.  A relief operation is in operation. There are still problems related to assistance given to NE part of the country by the government od Sri Lanka

( Updated numbers  Jan 07, 2005.  Numbers relate to confirmed dead, and do not include missing persons. )

More information about Tsunamis

A tsunami ( tsoo-nah-mee) is a wave of large amplitude, produced in a region of water by a large, sudden disturbance. This gives rise to vertical displacement of water. This is the start of the wave propagation from the epicentre. The Tsunamis can travel at hundreds of miles and hour. Given this enormous speed of propagation, it is hardly surprising that people have very little time to react to impending disasters.

The origin of this disturbance an arise from a number of sources including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and collisions of bodies from outer space, such as meteorites, with Earth.

The University of  Washington provides more useful information o­n their Tsunami website. The information is divided into the following areas:

  • The Physics of Tsunamis : How is a tsunami generated and how does it propagate?
  • A Survey of Great Tsunamis : How have tsunamis affected humans?
  • The Tsunami Warning System : How are people in coastal areas warned about tsunamis?
  • Tsunami Hazard Mitigation : How can you protect yourself from a tsunami?

    Videos and Animations of  Tsunamis

    You can view videos of the destructive poweres of  tsunamis o­n the University of Southern California's

    Tsunami Research Group's Website  

    More Information?

    The US Geological Survey (USGS)   provides up to date details about earthquakes around the world. 
    USGS  also provides Lesson Plans and Resources for Teachers .  There is also a Students Main Page . Visitors can also Explore Natural Hazards

    Location of the Tectonic Plates


  • This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of Interior.

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