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December 26, 2004 Tsunami

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Remembering the Tsunami -- One Year Ago Today: December 26, 2004

December 26, 2005

by Kevin Caruso

Editor’s note: The tsunami killed over 200,000 people and caused destruction and suffering at levels that are hard to imagine. And because I run Tsunamis.com, I have received countless e-mails from people who have been affected by the tsunami – many from people who lost loved ones in the disaster, and many from people who do not know what happened to their loved ones. So when I sat down at my computer today to write an article about the one-year anniversary of the disaster, I could not help but think of those people who wrote me, as well as their loved ones who are now in Heaven, or still remain missing.

And I never stop thinking about or praying for EVERYONE who was affected by the tsunami.

So, I want to remind you that Tsunamis.com will be here for you FOREVER, fighting for you, honoring those we lost, assisting the survivors, and educating the public about the disaster – our work has just begun.

I love you all.

God bless you all.

Kevin Caruso
TheTsunami.com (forwards to Tsunamis.com)
Founder, Director, Editor-in-Chief

Remembering the Tsunami -- One Year Ago Today: December 26, 2004

by Kevin Caruso

Today is an extremely painful day of remembrance, a day that marks the one-year anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history – the tsunami.

It was 7:58 a.m. local time on December 26, 2004, when a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, causing the tsunami.

A few minutes later, at 8:16 a.m., an enormous 30-feet-high wave hit Banda Aceh, Sumatra, leveling structures and sweeping away tens of thousands of people.

Some residents and tourists were able to climb or run to safety, others were fortunate enough to be on upper levels of high rise buildings, but the vast majority of people were pulled into the devastating wave and were at its mercy.

But the devastation of the tsunami was just beginning because there was no tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean at the time, so the tsunami would soon strike other countries and kill thousands of unsuspecting people.

Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India were three other countries that were hit particularly hard by the tsunami. And even Somalia, which is on the other site of the Indian Ocean, lost hundreds of people in the tsunami.

If a tsunami warning system existed in the Indian Ocean at the time of the tsunami, most of the 50,000+ deaths in countries outside of Indonesia would have been prevented.

So how many people died from the tsunami?

We will never know because many people were swept out to sea and will never be accounted for. But death toll estimates range from 216,000 to 300,000.

The large death toll of the tsunami is certainly the most disquieting aspect of the disaster, but another disturbing aspect is that of the mass graves that many of the dead were buried in. Because there were so many unidentified dead bodies in Banda Aceh in the days following the tsunami, overwhelmed authorities decided that it would be best to bury them in mass graves. So trucks and bulldozers were brought in to transport and place tens of thousands of unidentified bodies into these mass graves.

Innumerable tsunami survivors still visit these mass graves to pray for those who died.

Mass graves were also used in other countries, and identified bodies were oftentimes carried into the graves by loved ones -- some of the most disturbing images from the tsunami were those of grief-stricken parents carrying their children into these mass graves.

How many people lost their homes in the tsunami?

More than 2 million

And an estimated 1.8 million of them REMAIN displaced, living in tents, shelters, or with family.

How many people lost their jobs?

About 1.5 million people became unemployed because of the tsunami.

How much money was raised for relief and reconstruction?

About $13.6 billion.

What other problems face the tsunami survivors?

Depression is very common among survivors, and because depression is the number one cause for suicide, suicidal feelings are also common.

Depression requires treatment, but the vast majority of people who were affected by the tsunami are poor and thus will never receive the psychological treatment that they require.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is another psychological disorder that has manifested itself among many survivors; and PTSD will affect many more survivors in the future. (PTSD oftentimes takes many years to manifest.)

The bottom line: Millions of tsunami survivors are still struggling in many ways, and their struggles will continue indefinitely.

The world community thus needs to continue to work diligently to assist the tsunami survivors in every way possible…to help them rebuild their communities, and to help them rebuild their lives.

God bless you.

Take care,

Kevin Caruso
TheTsunami.com (forwards to Tsunamis.com)
Founder, Director, Editor-in-Chief
Project Care.com
Founder, Director

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