Chennai marks ten years since tsunami destruction

Chennai is commemorating ten years since the day a wall of water came ashore at Marina Beach, killing over 130 people.

Memorial services are planned in Chennai, throughout Tamil Nadu, and around the Indian Ocean, including in Sri Lanka and the Maldives which were particularly hard hit.

Around 9:30am on 26th December 2004 waves of up to ten metres high smashed into Marina Beach in India’s fourth largest city. Some reports suggest that the waves were travelling at up to 100 kph. A Sydney Morning Herald report from the time, quoted a Brajita Poulose describing the scene as she strolled along the beach;

“”Behind me, suddenly, we saw a huge wave coming at us,’ Mrs Poulose said… Her husband, one son and four relatives were drowned, among at least 5697 dead in India”

Initial rescue operation after the first tsunami wave (Image: Kotowski, Wikimedia Commons)

Initial rescue operation after the first tsunami wave (Image: Kotowski, Wikimedia Commons)

The waves struck without warning, while fishermen were hauling their nets and locals played cricket on the expanse of sand. In various parts of Chennai the water surged kilometres inland from the coast, with the military called upon to rescue survivors.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami remains one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, with a toll of dead and missing people of over 230,000 people. The earthquake was the third strongest ever recorded with a seismograph, and the longest in terms of duration. Wikipedia records Indonesia as the hardest hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, then India.

The tsunami's destruction (Image: Wikipedia)

The tsunami’s destruction (Image: Kotoviski, Wikimedia Commons)

(Image: Matthew Mayer, Wikimedia Commons)

(Image: Matthew Mayer, Wikimedia Commons)

The road to recovery for Chennai and the state of Tamil Nadu has been a long and arduous one, and one which still continues today for many victims.

On this solemn day, UrbanDuniya extends our thoughts and prayers to those affected by, and who continue to be affected by, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami both in Chennai and around the world.

Meet Tim Blight

Writer, traveller, amateur photographer, teacher. Based in Melbourne and Lahore.

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Leave a Comment

  • Andrew December 26, 2014, 9:11 pm

    the focus is often on Indonesia and Phuket, but it’s just unbelievable how far reaching the tsunami was. It really devastated Sri Lanka as well. Thanks for sharing Tim.

    • Tim Blight December 29, 2014, 7:16 pm

      Thank you for reading Andrew. It’s quite difficult to overstate how enormous the catastrophe was – people got swept into the ocean on the coastline of Somalia, on the opposite side of the ocean. Simply terrible.

  • Catherine December 28, 2014, 5:24 am

    What a lovely tribute to all those affected by the tsunami – though I cannot believe it has been ten years since it happened!

    • Tim Blight December 29, 2014, 7:17 pm

      The time has gone so quickly for many of us. I hope those who were directly affected by it have found some peace in the ten years since. Thank you for reading, Catherine.

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 28, 2014, 7:32 am

    Very moving and thought provoking Tim. I visited the Marina Beach area and Chennai in 2006 and just couldn’t stop thinking about how heartbreaking it must still be for the affected families, there and around the world. I remember hearing the news when it happened and I can’t believe it has been 10 years already. I hope they have managed to find some peace.

    • Tim Blight December 29, 2014, 7:19 pm

      I used to live quite close to Marina Beach, and more than once I was preoccupied by the thought of what would have gone on back in 2004. Simply devastating. Thank you for reading, Shikha.