The world is still coming to terms with the magnitude and impact of the tsunami. Soon after the tragedy, Sunday reporter Ross Coulthart travelled across the region to record the survivors' stories. His story is a minute-by-minute account of what happened in countries most affected by the wave, the human face of a tragedy that has touched the hearts of billions across the planet.
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. The resulting tsunami itself is given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Asian Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, and Boxing Day Tsunami.
The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunami along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing nearly 230,000 people in eleven countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (100 feet) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand were the hardest hit.
With a magnitude of between 9.1 and 9.3, it is the second largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph. This earthquake had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between 8.3 and 10 minutes. It caused the entire planet to vibrate as much as 1 cm (0.4 inches) and triggered other earthquakes as far away as Alaska.
The plight of the many affected people and countries prompted a widespread humanitarian response. In all, the worldwide community donated more than billion (2004 U.S. dollars) in humanitarian aid.