Boxing Day Tsunami case study

cards showing the causes, effects and responses for the Tsunami which hit South Asia on the 26th of December 2004

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What: A magnitude 9.1 earthquake caused a tsunami which travelled at around 800 km/h and reached heights of around 30m (98 ft).

Where: The epicentre of the earthquake causing the tsunami was off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

When: 26th December 2004 at 7:59 am local time (00:59 am GMT).

Plates involved: Indo-Australian and Eurasian

Plate margin type: Destructive

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Countries Affected by the Tsunami


Image copyright of the BBC

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Social Impacts:

  • There were about 230,000 deaths and approximately 125,000 injured
  • Approximately 1.7 million people were left homeless

Economic Impacts:

  • Fishing was made impossible due to the boats being destroyed
  • The infrastructure was destroyed
  • The tourism industry was also hit heavily as less people wanted to go to the affected countries
  • There is now a high demand for reinforced fibreglass catamarans produced by the Indian state of Tamil Nadu

Environmental Impacts:

  • There has been severe damage to habitats such as mangrove forests and coral reefs, as well as sand dunes and coastal wetlands
  • Fresh water has been contaminated by the sea
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Short Term Responses:

  • Within days, hundreds of millions of pounds had been pledged by foreign governments, charities and businesses such as microsoft
  • Foreign countries sent ships, planes, soldiers and specialists to help rescue people, distribute food and water and begin clearing up

Long Term Responses

  • Billions of pounds have been donated to help rebuild the infrastructure
  • Programmes have been set up to help people to rebuild their homes
  • There is now a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean
  • Disaster management plans have been put  in place, with trained volunteers who know what to do if there is another disaster
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