Remembering the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami

Photo US Navy

On December 26, 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude between 9.1 and 9.3 struck off the west coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The earthquake generated a tsunami that generated waves of up to 30 metres.

Just before 8:00 am local time on Boxing Day a massive earthquake known as a megathrust earthquake occurred off the coast of Indonesia. The earthquake was caused by a rupture along the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate.

Several countries surrounding the Indian Ocean were devastated, and the tsunamis killed an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries. It is one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

The earthquake was so strong that it caused the planet to vibrate as much as 10 mm and also remotely triggered earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

Part of the reason why the tsunami was so deadly was that there were no tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean, even though there was a delay up to several hours between the earthquake and the impact of the tsunami. Nearly all of the victims were taken by surprise.