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Remembering the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami: December 26, 2004

December 30, 2014 | John P. | Comments (0)
















On December 26 and beyond, take a moment to reflect upon the impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the accompanying tsunami, occurring on December 26, 2004, that resulted in catastrophic destruction and loss of life in a variety of countries in South Asia and environs, including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, to name four (4) of the fourteen (14) countries affected. The earthquake was undersea and megathrust in nature with one tectonic plate forced under (or subducted) by another tectonic plate; in this instance, the Indian plate was subducted by the Burma plate. The epicenter of the earthquake was off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. (Megathrust earthquakes are generally the most powerful type of earthquakes produced with moment magnitudes of at least 9.0 on the Moment Magnitude Scale (MMS).) The resulting earthquake spawned a series of large, destructive tsunamis (or tidal waves) up to thirty (30) metres (or 100 (one hundred) feet) along the shores of most countries bordering the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people. The varying 9.1 to 9.3 magnitude recorded on the MMS scale made this earthquake the third-largest ever recorded on a seismograph. Indonesia was the worst-affected country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. The global community responded with more than $14 billion (United States Dollars (USD)) in humanitarian aid. Subsequent research conducted by seismologists at Northwestern University in the United States found that the power of the Boxing Day earthquake was initially underestimated and was recalculated to be magnitude 9.3 on the Richter scale, making it second only to the 1960 9.5 magnitude earthquake in Chile. Further research conducted by American geoscientists found that the Sumatra earthquake was the longest earthquake ever recorded – between five hundred (500) and six hundred (600) seconds.


In 2010, the International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being (IJQHW) published an empirical study entitled “Out of the wave: The meaning of suffering and relief from suffering as described in autobiographies by survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami” with the intention of exploring the meaning of suffering and relief from suffering as described in autobiographies by visitors who experienced the December 26, 2004 tsunami and lost people close to them. Despair can be accompanied by hope and new possibilities in life for the survivors. In this vein, consider the following titles for borrowing from Toronto Public Library collections:



Wave / Sonali Deraniyagala. Book.

Read the moving account of economist Sonali Deraniyagala’s coping with grief as the sole survivor amongst her immediate family. Her husband and two sons died from the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 at the Yala national park in Sri Lanka. Learn how the author worked through initial desires to end her life

Also available in eBook (Access Online).

Read the review in The Guardian. Read the review in the Colombo Telegraph.


Not quite paradise an American sojourn in Sri Lanka

Not quite paradise: an American sojourn in Sri Lanka / Adele Marie Barker. Book.

An American academic went with her son in tow to Sri Lanka to teach Russian literature at the University of Peradeniya soon after 9/11 in the United States, immersing herself and her son in the cultural life and ways of the local people against a backdrop of civil conflict between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. She returned to Sri Lanka in October 2005, following the devastating December 26, 2005 tsunami, to see things for herself. She criticized aid charities working in competition without understanding the needs of the local people.

Read the review in Kirkus Reviews. Read the review in The Christian Science Monitor.  


Wave of destruction the stories of four families and history's deadliest tsunami

Wave of destruction: the stories of four families and history's deadliest tsunami / Erich Krauss. Book.

The author, a specialist in natural disasters and a relief worker, told the story of the tsunami’s effect upon four families in the Thai village of Nam Khem against a backdrop of rice farms and tin mining interests trying to force people off the land. A Christian relief organization was taken to task for offering assistance on the proviso that the predominantly Buddhist Thai people affected in Nam Khem convert to Christianity in order to receive the disaster aid.

Read the review in Publishers Weekly. Read the review in Kirkus Reviews


Love always Petra a story of courage and the discovery of life's hidden gifts

Love always, Petra: a story of courage and the discovery of life's hidden gifts / Petra Nemcova and Jane Scovell. Book.

Read Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova’s death-defying tale of clinging onto a tree for almost eight hours with a broken pelvis at a Thailand resort while her boyfriend, British photographer Simon Attlee, was swept away to his death in the Boxing Day tsunami. Nemcova faced some challenges in coming to terms with what had happened. Find out how Petra Nemcova got her life back on track.

Read the article Petra’s story in Vanity Fair


Only the sea keeps poetry of the tsunami

Only the sea keeps: poetry of the Tsunami / edited by Judith R. Robinson, Joan E. Bauer, Sankar Roy. Book.

This poetry anthology offers the reader another avenue of personal expression arising out of the terrible devastation that resulted from the Boxing Day tsunami and earthquake in 2004.  


Natural disasters

Natural disasters [3 videodiscs] / National Geographic. DVD. Documentary.

Watch this National Geographic series about natural disasters including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina (2005) and its effects upon New Orleans and other places, as well as severe storms, blizzards, and tornadoes.  


Blood & water [1 videodisc] / Rohan Fernando; National Film Board of Canada. DVD. Documentary.

Watch this National Film Board of Canada documentary about the story of Dr. Anton Ambrose (a Tamil who had immigrated to the United States in the 1970s), who while visiting Sri Lanka, lost his wife Beulah and his daughter Orlantha (who had established a non-profit organization in Sri Lanka giving underprivileged children free violin lessons) to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Dr. Ambrose collaborated with his nephew, award-winning filmmaker Rohan Fernando, on this documentary which highlighted Dr. Ambrose hosting a fundraising concert to build a music centre to honour daughter Orlantha’s work, visiting with some of his daughter’s friends, and seeking out the archbishop of Sri Lanka for advice, all the while trying to cope with tremendous loss against the backdrop of civil war in Sri Lanka between the Tamil minority and the Sinhalese majority.  


Tsunami wave of destruction

Tsunami wave of destruction [1 videodisc] / ABC News. DVD. Documentary.

Learn about the sequence of events from the earthquake and the tsunami that led to massive destruction and loss of life in South Asia from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, followed by relief efforts in the region. Learn also about the workings of tsunamis and look back at other catastrophic events.  







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