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26 December marks 7th anniversary of Great Tsunami

The Tsunami swamps Phuket's Chedi resort (AFP/Joanne Davis)
2004 SE Asia Earthquake & Tsunami Disaster:

Seventh anniversary of the South East Asia Earthquake and resulting Great Tsunami is today !

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 26 December 2011: - - The combo photo above taken 26 December 2004 shows (top-L) Phuket's Chedi resort staff preparing for the day as the first swell edges toward the lawn, followed by the arrival of the second and third waves (top-R and bottom-L) respectively, which engulfed the hotel restaurant and its surrounding gardens, and the final photo showing the water at its crest, flooding the whole area.


Source: SV Archives    Compilation: SVEditors

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which had a magnitude of 9.3, triggered a series of lethal tsunamis on December 26, 2004 that killed approximately 230,000 people (including 168,000 in Indonesia alone), making it the deadliest tsunami as well as one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. It also had one of the largest earthquakes.

The tsunami killed people over an area ranging from the immediate vicinity of the quake in Indonesia, Thailand and the north-western coast of Malaysia to thousands of kilometres away in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and even as far as Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania in eastern Africa.


Khao Lak, Thailand coastline before & after (AP Photo/Space Imaging)

In the satellite images above provided by Space Imaging, the coastline of Khao Lak, Thailand is shown before the tsunami attack on Jan. 3, 2003, left, and after the tsunami on right, taken Dec. 29, 2004.


Aceh is before & after the tsunami (AP Photo/Space Imaging)

In these satellite images above provdied by Space Imaging, the Indonesian province of Aceh is shown before the tsunami attack on Jan. 10, 2003, left, and after the devasting tsunami attack on Dec. 29, 2004, right.


Tsunami victims, at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur (Kamarulzaman Russali/Reuters)

Malaysian women say special prayers for the tsunami victims, at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur on December 31, 2004. Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that the government will not hold any celebrations to usher in the new year and called on all parties, including the private sector, to hold prayers following Sunday's tsunami which resulted in deaths and destruction


The tsunami hitting Kammale temple, Phuket (Reuters/Stringer)

A view of the quake-triggered tidal waves hitting Kammale temple in Phuket, about 862 km (536 miles) south of Bangkok on December 26, 2004. Heavy rains and fresh floods disrupted aid deliveries to Asia's tsunami-hit villages on January 2, 2005, just as a global $2 billion relief operation started to kick in a week after walls of water left millions struggling to survive. Picture taken December 26, 2004. REUTERS/Stringer .

Search heads to Meulaboh, Ache Province, Indo (REUTERS/Beawiharta)

Indonesian men head towards the tsunami-hit town of Meulaboh (used to be a good wave there) to search for family and survivors in Leupung district, 40km (25 miles) south-west of Banda Aceh, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra January 1, 2005.

Photo Series # 1

We had just hired a long tail boat to take us from Rai Ley west ( the beach with most of the boats in the aerial view - photo below) to Rai Ley east (the bay at the right side of the photo). We motored between the two small islands at the left side of the photo. We then stopped for a moment to admire the view next to the boat in the lower left corner of the photo.

A minute or so after we stopped, we noticed that we were fast drifting out to sea relative to an anchored boat. We looked outside to see what looked like a large set of waves. Normally the gulf of Phuket has the kind of waves you would expect from a large lake. The gulf is open on the south and could have waves if they came from the right direction. We asked the boat man if he had seen waves like this before. He said yes, every few years.



These photos are deceptive. If you have been to the Krabi Thailand area, you will know that these karsts (rock formations) are about 120 to 160 meters tall. The tsunami spray makes them look about 1/10th that size. These photos show spray going upward well over 20 meters! This photo was taken on Railey beach. We were on a long tail boat that literally surfed the tsunami swells as they were about to break. Andrew Melcher


Tsunami wave approaching rocks viewed from longtail boat, enlarge here

Wave breaks on rocks (120 meters tall) viewed from longtail boat, enlarge here The spray/water
from the breaking is calculated to have reached 20 meters in height

I thought I was really lucky to see a beautiful place like Krabi breaking. I come from San Diego, California, and about once a decade, the La Jolla Cove breaks in late December/ January with just the right north swell. It gets up to nearly 20 feet, which are the biggest sets that hit San Diego. I though that Krabi was breaking with some kind of rare winter solstice swell.

Wrong thinking Andy. When the swell got closer, it became obvious that this wave was moving at around triple speed or more. After spotting the wave, we motored out about half again further from shore. As the wave got near, the boatman reversed course and kind of halfheartedly took off on the swell at 45 degrees.

Just as the wave started getting really close, the boatman turned parallel to the wave and hit the gas. The super fast moving swell was getting quite feathery, but it fortunately passed under us. We did the same thing for the other two swells. When there was no more to the set, I had little doubt that the waves were a tsunami.

The waves were strange. Like I said before, they were much faster than any wave I have seen before. And backside seemed high relative to the face of the swell. I guess all of these things are to be expected.

One more thing, the people (they look like little dots at the end of the beach - photo below) in the beach photo give you an indication as to how high the karsts are and how high the spray went.


Tsunami wave approaching rocks viewed from longtail boat, enlarge here

Photo Series # 2:

Digital Globe images capture locations before and after Tsunami:

This series of images taken from space focussing on 14 specific locations clearly show the locations before and after the tsunami struck. They are large size, and impressive, the examples below are half size. When you open the link a toggle button Before/After is provided for you two view the difference at the 14 locations.

Seveal images in the series clearly demonstrate how the sea retreats (empties) from the beach in advance of the tsunami wave approaching and swamping the shore. Our thanks to Tony Demark, and to K38 Rescue for kindly making this contribution to the tsunami coverage, and rescue missions. To go to the "before/after" gallery please click here

- Before tsunami -

Kalutara Beach, Sri Lanka, in normal conditions before the tsunami, enlarge here

- During tsunami -
(ocean retreats)

Kalutara Beach, Sri Lanka, the ocean retreats in advance of tsunami's approach, enlarge here

- Before tsunami -


Banda Aceh Shore, Indonesia before the tsunami struck, enlarge here

- After tsunami -
(Town obliterated)

Banda Aceh Shore, Indonesia after the tsunami struck, enlarge here

Photo Series # 3:

Family Escapes Incoming Tsunami in Thailand:

The images below of Swedish Karin Svard, 37, were broadcast worldwide. They showed her desperately trying to warn her family who were playing in the surf as other tourists fled Hat Railey beach, in Krabi, Thailand. Miraculously she and her family survived the terrifying ordeal.

She told the Swedish Expressen newspaper that she only had one thing on her mind as she looked at the water - her children. Mrs Svardsaid she raced to warn her family when she saw the waves swelling but her shouts were drowned out by the noise. As the swell grew she said people were "flying in panic" for their lives as she ran towards the tsunami. By this time the waves were reaching heights of 10 metres and closing in on her family.

Finally she got within metres of them as they noticed the waves and fled for their lives. They were swept away but managed to hold on to trees and were washed to safety in what they describe as "fabulous luck". Karin, children Anton, 14, Filip, 11, and Viktor, 10, their father Lars Eriksson and her sister Maria all survived.


Tourists run for their lives as the first of six tidal waves approach Hat Railay beach
A mother on the far right spots her family in the path of the tsunamis.



The sea was sucked away from the coastline by the giant waves approaching.
Swedish mother Karin Svard continues the dash towards her family.



With the waves gaining ferocity, two yachts are swamped as the mum finally
reaches the group. But the tsunamis are nearly upon the family.



Close up, the power of the walls of water can be seen bearing down on the family.



Boy watches on as the waves march onwards, eventually engulfing the entire
resort. Miraculously Karin Svard and her family all survived.
map: South Asia and effect of tsunami
Epicenter of the Dec. 26 earthquake that struck South Asia. (Jan Conroy/UC Davis graphic)

Tidal waves wash through houses at Maddampegama, about 38 miles south of Colombo, Sri Lanka


Source: SV Archives

Compilation: SVEditors

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