INDEPTH: DISASTER IN ASIA
Hell, high water and heartache
CBC News Online | Updated Jan. 22, 2007
It's expected to take four years to rebuild much of the parts of south Asia that was hit by the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami – longer in the hardest hit areas of Bandeh Aceh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
A 2006 report from the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery said the number of people lost in the tsunami was nearly 230,000, with 187,000 dead and 43,000 missing. More than half, nearly 168,000, of the dead and missing were from Indonesia. The total number of dead may never be known because of the number of people swept out to sea.
Foreign Affairs confirmed on Dec. 23, 2005, nearly one year after the earthquake, that 20 Canadians died in the tsunami.
Meanwhile, finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations
have agreed to suspend debt payments from countries hit by the
waves. Canada had announced its intention to suspend debt payments
on Dec. 30.
"I have never seen such utter destruction mile after mile," UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters after flying over Sumatra.
"You wonder: Where are the people? What has happened to them?"
The south Asia tsunami one of the world's worst natural
disasters struck on the morning of Dec. 26, 2004.
At 7:59 a.m. local time, about 150 kilometres
off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, two tectonic
plates heaved under the sea along a 1,000 kilometre-long fault
line. The result: a magnitude 9 earthquake the most powerful
the world had seen in 40 years.
Parts of the sea floor rose by about 10 metres, displacing hundreds
of cubic kilometres of seawater. That generated a tsunami
a series of huge waves that quickly fanned out across the Indian
The waves moved so quickly, there was no time to sound the alarm.
Walls of water slammed into coastal areas of Indonesia, Malaysia,
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma,, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and thousands
of kilometres away Somalia in East Africa.
The waves destroyed whatever lay in
their path: from the built-up tourist resorts of Thailand to
isolated fishing villages in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Thousands
of people were killed. The number of dead rose by the hour as
the extent of the devastation became apparent.
On Dec. 29, 2004, military teams finally reached the
west coast of the island's northern province Aceh
about 150 kilometres from the quake's epicentre. They found
thousands of bodies. Three-quarters of the coast had been obliterated.
By the first week of January, it was clear it would take years
to rebuild across much of the stricken area. Some towns and
villages were so badly damaged, they could no longer be inhabited.
The worst tsunami in the modern era hit more than 120 years
ago, when the volcano, Krakatoa, exploded triggering waves that
destroyed parts of the East Indies and killed more than 36,000
In 1645 B.C., a volcano exploded on the Aegean island of Santorini,
sending a tsunami across the Mediterranean. Archaeologists believe
the waves destroyed Minoan civilization on Crete and likely
damaged coastal towns and cities.