The Most Violent Tsunami in History: Reflections a Decade in the Making

'Echoes of Tsunami' online experience brings users back to that fateful day after Christmas 2004
Echoes of Tsunami is our new interactive, digital experience in commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the Southeast Asian tsunami
Echoes of Tsunami is our new interactive, digital experience in commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the Southeast Asian tsunami

On December 26, 2004 many around the world were still enjoying holiday time with their loved ones--until the live news images, ones we'll never forget, started streaming in. The most violent tsunami in history had devastated the coasts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, southern India, and western Thailand within just a few hours.

An unprecedented storm

Indonesia and Sri Lanka were the two hardest-hit countries. More than 200,000 people died there and over one million were displaced. Across the broader region, the tsunami wreaked havoc from South and Southeast Asia to East Africa. A dozen countries were affected, and all told some 230,000 people lost their lives and more than 1.5 million were displaced.

Thanks to our 20 year presence in Southeast Asia--since 1996 in Sri Lanka and 1997 in Indonesia--Action Against Hunger was able to react immediately. And we haven't stopped responding since. More than 330,000 people have benefited from our programs in these two nations. That's thanks to the hard work of 50 of our expatriate staff and some 500 local employees, all of whom have come to the aid of tsunami-affected populations.

An interactive invitation to remember

Ten years after the disaster, Action Against Hunger recalls that tragic day, pays tribute to the victims of the catastrophe, and calls attention to the importance of disaster preparedness through the launch of an exclusive digital experience called Echoes of Tsunami
The website invites users to take part in an interactive journey, closing their eyes as they experience the sounds of the tsunami in four different locations in Indonesia--Lampulo port, Krueng Raba, Aceh market, and Pulau Bunta. Visitors can watch videos of these four locations today and learn key facts about the storm and its aftermath. This sensory, visceral web experience also features photos, interviews with staff, and a video of the tsunami hitting the beach. A decade-long timeline tells the story of the tsunami's destruction and of our response in the immediate and longer-term aftermath. And as mentioned, a key goal of the digital experience is to highlight how imperative disaster preparedness is for at-risk communities:

"The devastation resulting from the tsunami has highlighted the lack of preparedness of communities and authorities facing a disaster of such magnitude. From this observation grew the idea that if we could do little about the occurrence of a natural disaster, in contrast, with appropriate preparation and anticipation, we could significantly mitigate the impact."

Fabrice Carbonne, Country Director, Action Against Hunger-Indonesia

Disaster preparedness, also known as disaster risk management, is now a significant part of the programs we implement. While it's an underutilized approach, we view it as essential when working in countries like Indonesia that are regularly affected by natural disasters. Our staff teams work closely with community members and local authorities, training them to take protective measures toward food safety and livelihood protection against extreme weather events.

Please visit to learn more, and tweet about your experience on the site using #Tsunami10years.

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