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South Asia: Earthquake and Tsunami - Dec 2004

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On 26 Dec 2004, the fourth-largest earthquake in a century erupted underwater off the Indonesian province of Aceh, causing a tsunami that accelerate to speeds of more than 600 kilometres per hour and barreled one-fifth of the way around the earth. More than 228,000 people died in 14 countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia, and as far away as Africa; most were women – in some places three times the number of men – the elderly and children. The dead included citizens of 40 nations, and the damage totaled nearly US$10 billion. In all, nearly 2.5 million people were affected, losing their families, their homes, and their means of making even a meagre living. All these people already were vulnerable, with many of them chronically poor, subject to wide inequalities within their own societies, displacement, environmental issues from over fishing and deforestation, human rights violations, and longstanding armed conflicts. Households headed by women particularly were pushed deeper into poverty. When the tsunami was finished, it was the most destructive disaster of its kind in history. (Tsunami Global Lessons Learned Project: The tsunami legacy - Innovation, breakthroughs and change)