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Tsunami Press Room

© Courtesy of the BBC
An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 unleashed massive tidal waves across South Asia and East Africa on early Sunday morning, 26 December 2004, killing tens of thousands of people.

Following the 9.0 quake which hit northern Sumatra, powerful tsunamis with waves up to ten metres high slammed into the coasts of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Seychelles, and Somalia, devastating thousands of kilometres of coastline – and the communities that depended on them.  

The tsunami wiped away homes, schools, and health facilities; it demolished roads, bridges and power lines; it irrevocably altered the lives of millions of people. Tragically, UNICEF estimates that children account for more than one-third of deaths.

On 6 January, 2004, UNICEF, through the larger UN Consolidated Flash Appeal, announced that it would seek $144.5 million to support urgent humanitarian aid for the estimated 1.5 million affected children in South Asia. The appeal outlines how UNICEF will respond to critical and emerging needs, particularly those related to:

  • Emergency immunization to prevent fatal childhood diseases; 
  • Supply of clean, safe water and provision of basic sanitation;
  • Special feeding for malnourished children and pregnant women; 
  • Care for traumatized children; 
  • Protection for unaccompanied and separated children; and 
  • Provision of education kits and the rehabilitation of schools to ensure that children return to school as soon as possible.

UNICEF is working in close collaboration with the affected Governments to plan for the long term. Our goal is not only to rebuild what has been destroyed, but to ‘build back better’ – better schools, better health facilities, and better opportunities for children.

Fact sheets: Key statistics.
Contact us: For interviews and details from the ground.
Download: High resolution photos of UNICEF Press Officers 


  • Water, environment and sanitation
  • Procuring supplies for children
  • Building a protective environment for children
  • Education and recreation for children
  • About landmines

  • © Rune Feldt-Rasmussen AFP/Getty Images
    A Russian airplane hired by Danish UNICEF is loaded with aid at Kastrup Airport in Copenhagen before it takes off for Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    Fact sheets & Publications: Combating the spread of disease

    Learn more about UNICEF's work in water, environment and sanitation.

    Children in tsunami-affected countries

    Children account for a large proportion of casualties both because they represent 39 percent of the overall population of the eight hardest-hit countries and because they were physically less able to outrun the water or withstand the force of the water and/or debris.

     Country Total Population  Population < 18 Under 18 % of pop*
























     Sri Lanka












    *(in thousands, 2003); source: SOWC 2005

    At a glance:

    Indonesia | Sri Lanka | India | Thailand
    Malaysia | Myanmar | Somalia | Sri Lanka's civil war

    Contact information

    For interviews and other details from the ground, please contact UNICEF press officers:

    In Indonesia: John Budd + 62 811 936 437, GMT +7 hrs
                          Shantha Bloemen + 66 1 906 0813, GMT +7 hrs
    In Sri Lanka: Martin Dawes  cell: + 977 985 10 40961,
                          office: 94 11 2555270 x 250, GMT +6 hrs
    In The Maldives: Julia Spry-Leverton + 92 300 500 2595, GMT +5 hrs
    In India: Corrine Woods + 91 981 86 49088, GMT +5:30 hrs
                   Michael Galway  + 91 981 86 49088
    In Bangkok: Susan Curran +(66 2) 356 9481, GMT +7 hrs
    In Geneva: Damien Personnaz +41-22 909 5716, GMT +1 hr
    In Copenhagen:  Sandie Blanchet +45 35 27 32 07 GMT +1 hr
    NY Headquarters: Jehane Sedky-Lavandero + 1 212 326 -7269, GMT -5 hrs

    UNICEF spokespersons in New York, Regional Officers in South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific:
    NOTE: Click on thumbnail for downloadable high resolution photos.*


    UNICEF Chief of Media Relations Alfred Ironside, Communication Division in New York.
    + 1 212 326 7261

      UNICEF Media Officer Jehane Sedky-Lavandero, Communication Division in New York.
    + 1 212 326 7269
      UNICEF Supply Division Director Alan Court
    South Asia Regional Office
      UNICEF Senior Regional Communication Officer for South Asia Martin Dawes, at UNICEF’s office in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
    + 94 11 2555270 x250
    East Asia and Pacific Regional Office
    UNICEF Senior Regional Communication Officer for East Asia and Pacific Region Madeline Eisner, at UNICEF’s office in Bangkok, Thailand.
    + 66 2 356 9406
      UNICEF Regional Communication Officer for East Asia and Pacific Region Shantha Bloemen, at UNICEF’s office in Bangkok, Thailand.
    + 66 2 356 9407
      UNICEF Programme Division Director Edwin Joseph Judd in Indonesia.
    + 62 811 936 437
      UNICEF Country Representatives
      UNICEF Representative for Sri Lanka Ted Chaiban, at UNICEF office in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    *Image release - credit: ©  UNICEF photographs are available for use by bona fide news media organizations as part of reports or feature stories on UNICEF. Release permission is hereby granted for this purpose on the following conditions:  Image content may not be changed by digital or any other means, except cropping. Image may not be archived in any format or distributed to a third party by any non-UNICEF entity. No other rights than those specified are either granted or implied. Thank you for your interest in UNICEF.



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