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2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami facts for kids

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US Navy 050102-N-9593M-040 A village near the coast of Sumatra lays in ruin after the Tsunami that struck South East Asia.jpg
South-west suburb of Banda Aceh, Sumatra. Taken on 2 January 2005 by US Navy
Magnitude 9.1–9.3 Mw
Depth 30 km (19 mi)
Epicenter 3°18′58″N 95°51′14″E / 3.316°N 95.854°E / 3.316; 95.854
Type Megathrust
Areas affected Indian Ocean coastline areas
Max. intensity IX (Violent)
  • 15 to 30 m (50 to 100 ft);
  • max. 51 m (167 ft)
Casualties 227,898 dead
2004 Indonesia Tsunami Complete
The path of the tsunami, or the wave caused by an earthquake

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, also called the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, was a great underwater earthquake. It happened at 00:58:53 UTC (07:58:53 local time) December 26, 2004.

The epicenter of the earthquake was off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. At first, the earthquake was measured as a 9.0 on the Richter scale. Later, scientists said it was as high as a 9.3. In modern times, only the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 has been more powerful. The Indian Ocean earthquake was the longest ever recorded. It lasted between 500 (8.3 minutes) and 600 (10 minutes) seconds. It was so powerful that it caused the entire Earth to vibrate. It started other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.

The Asian tsunami

The large movement of earth under the water caused a very large and powerful tsunami. The tsunami was called the Asian tsunami, or the Boxing Day tsunami in Australia, Canada, England, and South Africa because it happened on Boxing Day. It spread all over the Indian Ocean. The tsunami caused heavy damage to countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It also devastated the eastern coast of India, such as the states of Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

Waves as high as 30m (100ft) killed many people and damaged or destroyed a lot of buildings and other property.

Over 227,898 people died or were not found after the tsunami. The wave did damage in East Africa as far away as South Africa (8000km/ 5000mi) where as many as 8 people died because of high water caused by the wave. Because of how much damage was caused and the number of people the earthquake affected, over $7 billion (USD) was donated to help rebuild the areas damaged.

Environmental impact

TsunamiAftermathNorthofPhuket NASA
Tsunami inundation in Khao Lak, Thailand

Beyond the heavy toll on human lives, the Indian Ocean earthquake has caused an enormous environmental impact that will affect the region for many years to come. It has been reported that severe damage has been inflicted on ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, forests, coastal wetlands, vegetation, sand dunes and rock formations, animal and plant biodiversity and groundwater. Also, the spread of solid and liquid waste and industrial chemicals, water pollution and the destruction of sewage collectors and treatment plants threaten the environment even further, in untold ways. The environmental impact will take a long time and significant resources to assess.

According to specialists, the main effect is being caused by poisoning of the freshwater supplies and of the soil by saltwater infiltration and a deposit of a salt layer over arable land. Salted-over soil becomes sterile, and it is difficult and costly to restore for agriculture. It also causes the death of plants and important soil micro-organisms. Thousands of rice, mango, and banana plantations in Sri Lanka were destroyed almost entirely and will take years to recover.

Economic impact

Chennai beach2
Chennai's Marina Beach after the tsunami

The level of damage to the economy resulting from the tsunami depends on the scale examined. While the overall impact on the national economies was minor, local economies were devastated. The two main occupations affected by the tsunami were fishing and tourism.

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