On this day 19 years ago, a devastating tsunami hit Aceh, Indonesia.

At 7:59 that morning, a magnitude 9.3 earthquake occurred at the bottom of the Indian Ocean 160 miles west of the island of Sumatra that lasted for 10 minutes.  It produced a tsunami whose energy was estimated to be twice that of all the bombs detonated during World War II.

 In less than 20 minutes, the tsunami wave reached the coast of Sumatra island & destroyed the northern region of the island, Aceh.  The waves reached 80 to 100 feet high, wiping out entire communities there within minutes.

 The strong current that brought with it objects & debris claimed around 130,000 to 160,000 lives out of the total 320,000 population of Aceh, with over 500,000 left homeless.  1/3 of the victims are children.

 While Aceh was being destroyed, the 800 km/h tsunami wave arrived in Thailand an hour and a half after the earthquake started, storming the Phang Nga & Phuket region.  It claimed nearly 5,400 lives including 2,000 foreign tourists.

 Malaysia was no exception when a large wave also swept the west coast state & claimed 67 lives.  The worst affected state was Penang with 52 deaths, followed by Kedah with 12 deaths, 2 in Perak & 1 in Selangor.

 The tsunami spread across the Indian Ocean & also hit Sri Lanka, 90 minutes after the earthquake.  Not as strong as in Aceh or Thailand, but around 30,000 lives were also lost before reaching Chennai, India where more than 10,000 residents were killed.

 In fact, the tsunami traveled 5,000 miles & reached the east coast of Africa – 10 dead in Tanzania, 3 in Seychelles & 1 in Kenya.  In fact, 2 people also died in South Africa, the farthest place from the point of the earthquake that received its effects.

 In total, an estimated 228,000 lives were lost – around 190,000 confirmed dead with 40,000-45,000 missing/presumed dead.  It is one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

 Source: History, Britannica

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