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On 14th anniversary of 2004 deadly tsunami, Indonesia still reels under disasters

The calamity had witnessed the loss of lives of 230,000 people across several south and southeast Asian countries -- Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Thailand and several others, besides inflicting massive damage.

On 14th anniversary of 2004 deadly tsunami, Indonesia still reels under disasters

Indonesia has been facing the constant wrath of earthquakes and tsunamis and on Wednesday this year, the country marks 14 years of the deadly tsunami that hit the island nation in 2004.

On December 26, 2004, an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1, had struck with an epicentre off the west coast of northern Sumatra triggering a massive tsunami. The calamity had witnessed the loss of lives of 230,000 people across several south and southeast Asian countries -- Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Thailand and several others, besides inflicting massive damage.

Even after these fourteen years, as the country commemorates the anniversary of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, Indonesia is reeling under yet another similar tsunami that has killed till now over 400 people, injured 1,500 and some displaced 16,000 people. Indonesian authorities on Wednesday resumed the search for 154 people missing after a tsunami hit the Sunda Strait coasts.

The rain continues to hamper rescue work on the fourth day of searching the ruins of collapsed buildings, vehicles and thick vegetation. Experts believe the giant waves were caused by the collapse of part of Anak Krakatau volcano after it erupted in the Sunda Strait.

Fear of a new tsunami caused by the volcano`s continued activity has led officials to warn residents to avoid the coasts. On Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people fled to high ground in Java`s Sumur district during a new Anak Krakatau explosion.

The havoc caused by the 2004 earthquake was due to the rupture along the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate. A series of gigantic tsunamis were triggered that shot up to 17.4 metres (57 feet) high by the underwater seismic activity and it collectively came to be as known as Boxing Day tsunamis. 

The earthquake caused the planet to vibrate around 1 centimetre (0.4 inches) and it triggered earthquakes even in Alaska. The condition of the survivors who were affected prompted a worldwide humanitarian response and donations totalled more than $14 billion.

The disastrous tsunami dug its nails in India when giant waves swallowed thousands of people in Tamil Nadu's coastal areas like Nagapattinam, Chennai, Cuddalore, Velankanni and Poompuhar. Over 8,000 people lost their lives in Tamil Nadu alone.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remembered the victims of the tsunami. She also had a word of praise for those who had shown courage in face of the disaster by volunteering to help the affected. "On the 14th anniversary of the Tsunami 2004, my solemn tribute to those who lost their lives due to the disaster. Salute to those who volunteered to help the affected across the regions," Banerjee tweeted on Wednesday morning.

In 2017, a study found that sediments from the Himalayas may have aggravated the severity of the catastrophic 2004 earthquake. Researchers found that the sediment that eroded from the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau over millions of years was transported thousands of kilometres by rivers and into the Indian Ocean. It became sufficiently thick over time to generate temperatures warm enough to strengthen the sediment and increase the severity of the Sumatra earthquake in on December 26 in 2004.

Indonesia is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of great seismic and volcanic activity that is shaken every year by some 7,000 earthquakes, most of them moderate.