Damages Caused By the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami

Damages Caused By the Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami

According to (Anderson, 2011), Indian Ocean region experienced an earthquake of 9.1-9.3 magnitude on 26th December 2004, at 7:59 AM local time that resulted in a series of tsunamis. The coast of Northern Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands are some of the areas hardest hit by the earthquakes. Tsunamis led to a large number of deaths, damage of property and further affected cities like Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives and Thailand.

It was the third most massive earthquake in history with the most extended faulting period of about 9 minutes. Earthquakes were caused by a fracture alongside the fault between Indian and Burma plate hence leading to massive tsunamis that travelled a height of 30 feet or more when they struck shorelines. They killed approximately 230,000 people from the neighbouring communities of the coastal region of the Indian Ocean in 14 countries. (Wang & P, 2006).

A variety of cities were affected in numerous ways; for example, Banda Aceh in Indonesia. It experienced excessive floods along the coastal region that lead to a high number of death toll of approximately one million and leaving others displaced. Environmental damages in the agricultural sectors and the economic destruction of income-generating activities like tourism were also affected by tsunamis.

Andaman coasts in Thailand were also affected by the tsunami through the destruction of coral reefs as a result of sand infiltration and siltation. 3-10% of seagrass beds were damaged leading to a decline in food products such as fish. The tsunamis caused an imbalance of land and coastal ecosystems — loss of economic livelihood due to infrastructure damages such as fisheries, buildings and bridges.

Tsunamis caused a disruption of land resulting into the contamination of groundwater by sewage and wastewater in Sri Lanka, which further affected the clean supply of drinking water and causing an increase in soil salinity hindering most agricultural activities. A higher degree of damages changed the city’s infrastructure and properties. They also interfered with the fragile ecosystem by cracking large parts of the reefs.

In the Maldives, tsunamis destroyed coastal infrastructure mainly through harbours, excessive sand erosion and riparian vegetation. They mostly affected the economic sector in terms of the number of tourists visiting an area and agricultural produce.

The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami caused adverse destruction in property, lead to loss of human lives and displacement to people hence causing deterioration in the economic progress and removal of the environment. The total amount of losses encountered cost them over $15 billion to recover from the damages hence lagging them behind.



  1. Anderson, M. (Ed.). (2011). Investigating Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes. Britannica Educational Publishing.


  1. Wang, X., & Liu, P. L. F. (2006). An analysis of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake fault plane mechanisms and Indian Ocean tsunami. Journal of Hydraulic Research44(2), 147-154.