Boxing Day Tsunami

By Lily Harnath

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The Boxing Day tsunami started as an undersea earthquake and occurred at 00:58 on 26 December 2004. It had an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.


Initially the earthquake was classified as having a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale. However in 2005 seismologists reclassified the magnitude as 9.3, which is only second to the 1960 Chile earthquake that had a magnitude of 9.5.


An undersea earthquake creates tidal waves because the earthquake changes the shape of the seafloor. The seafloor raises or lowers. Seawater is almost incompressible so the sea surface is also raised. However the sea surface needs to stay horizontal, so a lump of water will collapse under gravity, resulting in a series of waves. If the area affected by an earthquake is large, the tidal waves may be large too.


Drawback is caused by the moving of the tectonic plates. The water becomes displaced and the water recedes.

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Devastation

230,210 people are estimated to have been killed in the tsunami: 1,84,168 of these were confirmed and 45,752 missing. The highest number of deaths were people from Sumatra where 130,736 people were confirmed dead. The second highest amount of deaths were in Sri Lanka where 35,322 fatalities were confirmed. 12,504 deaths were confirmed in India, 5,395 in Thailand, 82 in the Maldives, 78 in Somalia, 69 in Malaysia, 61 in Myanmar, 10 in Tanzania, 3 in the Seyschelles, 2 in Bangladesh, 2 in South Africa, 2 in Yemen and 1 in Kenya.



  • Originally US $9.9 billion was estimated to be the value of economic, infrastructural and human development losses.
  • 141,000 houses were destroyed.
  • In Aceh over 600,000 lost their livelihoods.
  • Over 1000 German and Swedish tourists were killed.


Tsunami Warning System

India, Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia have all implemented a 'Tsunami Warning System' of some sort.


The 'Tsunami Warning System' has the potential to be great because it can help give warning of a tsunami so that we can avoid the large number of deaths because of unpredicted tsunamis. However the system will be expensive and will take a long time to build. So we have to think about if it is worth spending so much money and time on something that won't be used extremely often.