In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, people realized that the Indian Ocean region also needed a tsunami warning system.  (There was no tsunami-detection system in place on December 26, 2004.)  This NOAA illustration depicts how the DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) system works.  Online, courtesy NOAA.


Because there was no tsunami-warning system throughout the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, the Banda Aceh earthquake became the second-deadliest in recorded history.

  • 15 minutes after the Earth moved, the northern part of Sumatra was hit.  Banda Aceh was totally devastated.  With a wave higher than coconut trees, ships were tossed around as though they were weightless.  The impact on people was astounding.  Three-quarters of the tsunami-caused deaths happened on Sumatra.
  • 1 hour after the quake, people in Thailand did not know about all the tsunami-caused deaths on Sumatra and the Nicobars.
  • Within an hour-and-a-half after the quake, those unsuspecting people - like the Alvarez-Belón family - were stunned when the waves crashed ashore.  Around 9,000 people died in Thailand.
  • 2 hours after the quake, the waves reached Sri Lanka.  At least 35,000 were killed, including those on the "Queen of the Sea" train.
  • At about the same time, the waves reached India.  At least 10,000 people died there.
  • 3½ hours after the quake, scientists at the Hawaii Tsunami center learned about the spreading devastation as the waves continued to move across the Indian-Ocean area.  Lacking an official warning system, they picked-up their phones and started calling whomever they could reach in the likely path of the waves.           
  • 3¾ hours after the quake, the tsunami reached the Maldives (a highly valued tourist haven).  About 100 people died in this low-lying country of beautiful islands and atolls which average a single meter above sea level.  Its leading industries - tourism, fishing and agriculture - all sustained significant damage.
  • 7 hours after the quake, the waves reached East Africa.  By this time, people were hearing the news, so fewer casualties occurred.
  • Within 28-29 hours after the quake, the waves had encircled the entire globe.

When Maria Belón - who is called Maria Bennett in "The Impossible" - began to talk about what happened to her family, she made this observation:

I think before the tsunami I was blind.
I was a blind person and now
I see clearly.

Perhaps the whole world was blind not to see what could have happened in the Indian Ocean before December 26, 2004. 

But afterwards - when it became clear that such devastation was not only possible, it could occur again - things changed.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jul 09, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"AFTERMATH of BANDA ACEH QUAKE" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2013. Feb 17, 2020.
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