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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Asian countries hit hard by powerful earthquakes and tsunami

© UNICEF/SD/04/Thoby
UNICEF staff in Copenhagen packing New Emergency Health Kits for Sri Lanka
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 26 December 2004 – A powerful earthquake unleashed massive tidal waves across South Asia early Sunday morning, killing more than an estimated 23,000 people in Asia and Africa, according to various news reports.

Earthquake originating off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered the tsunamis. Villages and resorts were slammed with waves of water, some reaching as high as 20 feet. Tourists, fishermen, homes and cars were all swept away. The strongest earthquake measured 9.0 on the Richter Scale, making it the most powerful earthquake in 40 years.

In Sri Lanka, 1,000 miles west of the epicenter, the Government has declared a state of emergency. Among other countries affected are Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh. All communications have been severed to the Sumatran towns closest to the epicenter.

The death toll is expected to rise dramatically as the full impact of the devastation unfolds. Multitudes of people are still reported missing and unaccounted for. A United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team is being dispatched today in order to asses the needs of those affected by the disaster, especially women and children.









  • UNICEF Communication Officer John Budd on Indonesia

  • UNICEF Communication Officer Martin Dawes on Sri Lanka

  • UNICEF India’s Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation Lisette Burgers on Chennai, India

  • UNICEF Representative in Thailand Inese Zalitis on Thailand

  • UNICEF Communication Officer Jason Rush on Myanmar

  • UNICEF Assistant Representative Tom Bergmann-Harris on Maldives

  • UNICEF Senior Programme Officer Siddharth Chatterjee on Somalia
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