The Boxing Day Tsunami

Category: Environment
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On “December 26, 2004” (emergency+disasters database) at exactly “7:59am” (Indian Ocean 2004) a nine point one magnitude underwater earthquake caused a Tsunami to hit Southern Asia, seven hours later. How did this happen? What is a tsunami? How bad was it? When swimming in the ocean the waves are around ten feet tall, imagine that times ten, can you even picture a one hundred foot wave, well neither could the people living in South Asia until there nightmares became a reality.

A tsunami is a huge wave that usually comes after the occurrence of an earthquake. In this instance a “9.1 magnitude earthquake” caused the disaster. (DAVE ROOS) “The earthquake creates a fast moving wave that gets bigger due to speed and wind across the ocean”(Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004). As the wave approaches shore no one knows what type of disaster is going to occur. When the wave neared the shore line in 2004, it sucked a massive amount of water out to sea, causing the wave to become giant. In the Boxing day tsunami the waves were as high as one hundred feet. The tsunami that hit South Asia was the most deadly tsunami that they have ever had because it left many people homeless, unemployed, and having to take their children out of school.

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Approximately “230,000 people were killed in The Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. That fact along with its 15 billion dollar price tag, make it one of the top three natural disasters of all time.”The Boxing Day Tsunami got its name because it was the day after Christmas. That was the day that people returned boxes to the  store of unwanted gifts;”( Raziye Akkoc) but in this case, that is not what happened. Buildings were destroyed, people were unable to work, kids were unable to go to school.

Communication systems were not working, and proper medical care became unavailable. In Indonesia, one of the most affected countries, the tsunami knocked out thirty of the two hundred and forty hospitals, wrecked seventy seven, and minorly damaged around forty. (J Med Assoc Thai). That was a part of the reason why so many people died.  There was no room for them in the little amount of  hospitals that they had left for them to receive help. Some people were already checked into the hospital before the disaster, but once it hit medical records were often swept away.

It was hard to identify lots of people that could not remember their name because of brain damage. The only way you could really tell if it was them was if they had family members. One of the biggest issues for the hospitals were the lack of materials and beds for the patients. So if someone came in that needed a certain kind of medicine that the hospital did not have,  people would have to wait for hours- sometimes days- for the hospital to get more medication.(Impact of the Tsunami on healthcare systems)

It was estimated in January, 2005 that at least 500,000 people were wounded in the tsunami. In many Asian cultures it is customary to help others before oneself.  In a study of The Sri Lankan affected population this proved true.  A major health consideration is the problem of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.(Post-traumatic stress disorder in children)  This happens after a life-threatening episode like war, attack or abuse, or natural disaster.  Eventually the Sri Lankans had to think of themselves and deal with the psychological issue of PTSD.(Robert T Muller Ph.D.)

Animals suffered and died in the tsunami, though many wild animals seemed to have a sixth sense and ran, slithered or flew to safety before the event. (Mott 1)  Domestic animals were the worst hit.  Many pets were left behind.  Dead cows were found tied to poles.  Abandoned animals had no food or medicine.  There was a lack of clean water.  Starving dogs were eating dead bodies and rotting food.  Eventually animal refugee camps were set up. (Animal victims 1)

Not only the hospitals were affected but schools too.  Many of the children going to school died.  In Sri Lanka 35,000 people died and 40% of them were children at or going  to school (After the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka brings tsunami education and evacuation drills to schools). There were 1000 schools affected from the disaster. A large percentage of kids that went to those schools were left sleeping on the streets with their families. Often their houses got destroyed. Hundreds of schools damaged and children traumatised by Indonesia’s deadly earthquake and tsunami. (evacuation drills to schools)

141,000 peoples houses were destroyed, leaving one point seven million people homeless. Some people had insurance, mostly the bigger companies like hotels.  Most people barely  had money to afford a home in the first place.  Those who did manage to buy a house seldom had money for insurance, so when their house was gone it was really gone. The Red Cross helped out. For The Red Cross, the first month after the disaster was the biggest individual donor month  in their history.  The Red Cross had to actually had to shut down the donations because they got so much money. They pretty much had to tell people to donate  to a different cause.(Jeffrey Hays). With that and other donated monies, much of the damage was restored in about four years. It does not look the same, but buildings were in some way restored.

After the 2004 tsunami,  people on the Asian coast are more fearful of these disasters. For those who do live on the coast one should always be prepared. (Disasters database 1) One never knows what could happen when, because there is no real season for a  tsunami. To prepare for a tsunami it would be good to have a kit. A radio would give alerts about earthquakes and  tsunamis. In the kit one would want extra batteries, water, snacks, and warm clothing. You can also go to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s station for earthquake and tsunami alerts.

Coastal neighborhoods now often a siren alert system. When one  sees the water being drawn back out to sea or quickly rising, run and get to high ground; do not wait for an alert. (Martin 1)  When on a boat go back out to sea until told to come back to the land. Families should also have a meeting spot  so if they get separated from their families they just go to that meet up spot and see if their family’s are there. If  caught in the tsunami wave, hold onto something that floats like a door or mattress, because drowning is the biggest cause of death in a tsunami. (Wunderground 1)Fortunately, odds of dying in a tsunami are one in 500,000.  Odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 102. (Bhattacharya 1)

Work Cited

  1. (Animal Victims of Tsunami, Animal friends of Croatia)
  2. (At-a-glance: Countries hit Thursday, 22 December 2005)-
  3. (Culture & PTSD: Lessons from the 2004 Tsunami Robert T Muller Ph.D. Oct 04, 2013)-
  4. (Damaged by the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka brings tsunami education and evacuation drills to schools April 7 2018)-
  5. (Did Animals Sense Tsunami Was Coming? Maryann Mott,, JANUARY 4, 2005)-
  6. (Did they sense the tsunami? Roger Highfield 08 Jan 2005)-
  7. (emergency+disasters database 2008)-
  8. (How Women Were Affected by the Tsunami: A Perspective from Oxfam Rhona Macdonald June 28, 2005)-
  9. (Indian Ocean 2004)-
  10. (Impact of the Tsunami on healthcare systems September 2005)-
  11. (Post-traumatic stress disorder in children after the tsunami disaster in Thailand: a 5-year follow-up. Aug 2011)-
  12. (Ready gov)-
  13. (Tsunamis facts about killer waves,January 14,2005)-
  14. (Tsunami health hazards)-
  15. (weather underground-tsunamis)-
  16. (The 2004 Tsunami Wiped Away Towns With ‘Mind-Boggling’ Destruction DAVE ROOS, OCT 2, 2018)
  17. (When Tsunamis come Kelly Martin, Quora magazine April 20 2018)
  18. (Why is the day after Christmas called Boxing Day CHRISTOPHER KLEIN DEC 20, 2016)
  19. (500,000 people injured by Asian tsunami Shaoni Bhattacharya, January 4 2005 )
  20. (2004 Boxing Day tsunami facts Raziye Akkoc Tuesday 11 December 2014)
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The Boxing Day Tsunami. (2019, Feb 21). Retrieved from