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Published: June 21st 2017
Geo: 5.55, 95.32
My first experience of the Boxing Day Tsunami 2004 apart from seeing it on the news, was in Tangalle in Sri Lanka. The devastation and heartbreak encountered is beyond belief and now I find myself in Banda Aceh which was the worst hit of all the places affected.
I had arranged with a friend from Bukit Lawang to meet one his friends, a Becak driver however on arrival he's broken his ankle and sends another friend to meet me at the bus station which was kind. His friend instead will take me around for the day to visit the many sites and places of interest and I had an enlightening visit packed full of information and reality.
In the early morning of Boxing Day 2004, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake struck just off the western coast of Sumatra with Banda Aceh being the nearest city to the epicenter, which was followed quickly by a massive tsunami. One hundred and sixty seven thousand people died and and many more injured, with constant tremors which I was told lasted around two years. Starting off every day and constant, to less each day, until eventually petering out but it left the spirit and nerves in
tatters, and the stench apparently horrific with bodies continually being discovered.
In the city there are the constant reminders of ships that were washed ashore, a massive cargo ship is now located around 3km inland from the nearest ocean and it's very difficult to actually take it all in. There are another three or four boats also nearby with one actually still resting on the house it landed on.
Mass graves are located in the city to bury the dead, temporary accommodation was provided but it seems a lot of this went to relief workers instead of the actual homeless affected. There seems to be a lot of politics still relating to relief and money that never got to those who needed it most and I guess you'll never find out the true ins and outs but Banda Aceh was completed devastated by the events.
I've added some of the pictures of scenes from the time which are horrendous but gives you an insight to what actually happened. The Central Mosque which is now restored is featured in one of the photographs with the surrounding area demolished, the clock shows the time of the disaster and is a constant reminder.
Traveling is education, will
I ever be the same... I hope more compassionate, caring and knowledgeable, it's hard not to be affected.
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