Remembering the Boxing Day Tsunami

On 26 December 2004, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a massive tsunami – one of the most devastating natural disasters on record. Ten years on, we remember and acknowledge the remarkable public support that transformed communities across India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

More information on the tsunami and our response


Remembering the Boxing Day Tsunami Media gallery

10 years since the tsunami

Lamlumpu village in Aceh, Indonesia was one of the communities devastated by the tsunami. The village lost three quarters of its residents. When the tsunami hit, Agus was in hospital for the birth of his son, Samwil. His son is now at elementary school.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Remembering the tsunami

Abas, from Kreung Raya in Aceh, owns a night fishing boat. Remembering the awful event, he said, “The memories are still painful – but through focusing on our jobs and through hard work we overcame the tsunami. Our lives are better now.” After the tsunami, local Caritas organisations supported the fishing village with new equipment including motors for their boats and stalls to dry their catch.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Boxing Day Tsunami

Mahyar, 35, was on the student campus when the tsunami hit, and lost all his family. He now works for better access to education for children.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Ten years ago

10 years after the tsunami, Caritas met up with the community in Kreung Raya in Aceh and shared photos from the early recovery phase of the emergency. Rena from the community, is now 24 and married. Her message to her 14 year old self – “Take life as it is and run with it.”

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Healthcare for pregnant women

Evi is a midwife in Arongan Lambalek. After the tsunami, CRS (Caritas USA) built medical clinics to provide healthcare to pregnant women and new mothers in the rural area on the coast near Meulaboh. Deaths in childbirth in the area have gone down from 3-7 a year before the tsunami to 0 in 2014.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Boats for a fishing cooperative

In response to the tsunami, our partner Caritas Germany helped a fishing cooperative in Banda Aceh buy two 40 tonne boats. Sharifuddin is chairperson of the fishing cooperative, and they are now working on improving the ship so that it can travel further.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Families affected by the tsunami

Mo Nazzarin was one of the people caught in the tsunami ten years ago. He was just able to throw two of his children to safety in a building before being swept away. He latter woke up in a pile of dead bodies that had been collected in a mosque for burial. He searched and found his family, 11 out of 12 survived. Pictured are two of his sons. Following the tsunami, Mo's family was supported by CRS (Caritas USA) and Caritas Switzerland with housing with water and sanitation.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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New life

The 2004 tsunami devastated communities in Indonesia and destroyed buildings, including the school in Meulaboh. The school was rebuilt and reopened in 2007 with the support of CRS (Caritas USA). Hilda is a teacher at the school. She lost two children in the tsunami and was badly injured. So she decided to devote herself to teaching as it seemed she couldn’t have more children. But then 10 years later, at the age of 39, she had a baby.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Stories of survival

Ten years on from the tsunami, Fajri remembers his terrifying experience of the event. Here, he points at the house he climbed on when the tsunami hit. Thirty people managed to survive by climbing onto the roof.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Rebuilding as one family

Before the tsunami, Buyung was a rebel in Aceh's conflict, living with his daughter in the jungle. For him, the tsunami changed all this. ”The tsunami brought peace. We worked as one family to rebuild.” Buyung and his daughter now live in a house that was built with the support of CRS (Caritas USA), and his daughter is now at university studying to be a pharmacist

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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Selling fish at the markets

After the tsunami, CRS (Caritas USA) built a market complex in Banda Aceh to help the local economy. Fish seller Jahrinal, 45, says “I can protect my fish from the sun and the rain. Before I had to sell on the street. I can support my family with this kind of work. We can live a decent life.” Anddriyani, his wife says they have a loyal customer base.

Credit: Patrick Nicholson / Caritas Internationalis

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