Boxing Day Tsunami, 2004 – Ten Years On

Boxing Day, 2004, will forever be remembered as a day of destruction and devastation across continents. A 9.1 magnitude earthquake ruptured a fault line, just off the coast of Indonesia. This caused a displacement of water, spilling tonnes of water on to the coastal regions from Indonesia, all the way across to Somalia, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

In the aftermath of this earthquake, almost 228,000 people were killed, and damages caused totalled up to a striking figure of £6.4 billion, as lands were stripped off vegetation, farms left barren and fishing boats throw into trees. With waves as high as 30 meters, the Indonesian province of Aceh was severely destroyed.

The tsunami impacted 14 countries, with staggering figures as death tolls: Indonesia (130,000 dead), Sri Lanka (31,000), India (10,750) and Thailand (5,400) suffered the most. The ripples were felt as Somalia, which suffered 200 fatalities.

As the province, Aceh recovered over the 10 years, aid organisations and support groups all worked towards building back a community, which was left severely scarred. Whilst, some projects have succeeded for example home run bakeries and other businesses, sectors like education has severely suffered as aid organisations left the local government in charge. The influx of aid money has also left locals with a sense of entitlement over the funds, yet with little ambition.

The pivotal lesson learned from this natural disaster was the lack of warning systems in the region. In the wake of the tragedy, the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System was created, to detect seismological changes and issue adequate warnings. However, the World Health Organisation still expresses concerns over the weakness in the system.

10 years on, as the farmers of Aceh and surrounding provinces are back in their paddy fields, Mother Nature has left behind a sour taste in the mouths of some, yet has been a beacon of hope for others.

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