The Tsunami 10 years on, through Asian eyes

A man from Aceh, recalls the flashback of the Aceh Tsunami at the Aceh Tsunami Commemoration Event in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on December 26, 2014.
A man from Aceh, recalls the flashback of the Aceh Tsunami at the Aceh Tsunami Commemoration Event in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on December 26, 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

BOXING Day 2004 is remembered by many of us with great sorrow.

It was the day a giant wave struck from out of the blue, ravaging coastal communities across 13 countries, seven of them in Asia.

Over 226,000 people died, most of them from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Somalia and the Maldives.

The destruction unleashed by the ocean's fury also left many homeless, cut off from families and loved ones, lost and forlorn.

The scale of the devastation, however, galvanised countries around the region into action, and summoned a collaborative global effort to rescue, and rebuild, the communities that had been devastated.

Former United States president Bill Clinton, who was designated the United Nations envoy for the tsunami recovery, pledged then a collective effort to "build it better" , and uplift the lives of those so badly hit.

Ten years on, we at The Straits Times thought it would be fitting to revisit the areas that had been affected, not only to recount what had happened, but also to see if indeed the promise to help rebuild communities and lives had been delivered on.



We also wanted to ponder the lessons that might have been learnt from the traumatic experience.

Rather than doing this alone, we thought it would be more meaningful to work together on this project with our partners in the Asia News Network, a grouping of Asian newspapers.

Some 50 writers, photographers, designers, artists and editors from The Straits Times in Singapore, The Jakarta Post in Indonesia, The Island in Sri Lanka, The Nation in Thailand and The Star in Malaysia were involved in this multi-media project, which includes reports which will run in our print publications, on our websites, and also a new e-book, specially put together by The Straits Times Digital team.

We went back to some of the worst-affected towns, visited survivors and spoke to relief personnel and volunteers about their experiences.

We also delved into the science of the tsunami and the workings of the early warning systems that were set up to detect the next killer wave.

And we tell you what scientists have to say about the next big tsunami - where and when will it hit.

We hope this effort will be a fitting reminder of that fateful day, Dec 26, 2004, when the world awoke in horror to the devastation that had been unleashed, and also the tremendous coming together of people from all round the wider world to deal with it.

warren@sph.com.sg

Follow Warren Fernandez on Twitter @theSTeditor