Tsunami in Southeast Asia
On 26 December 2004, at 7.58 local time, an earthquake measuring 9.0 in magnitude on the Richter scale, one of the strongest recorded in the last century, generates a tsunami of frightening dimensions that hits the coastlines of the countries around the Indian Ocean, claiming approximately 300,000 victims.
The epicentre of the earthquake is located off the northwest coast of the island of Sumatra, at a depth of approximately 10 km, caused by the subduction of the Indian plate, sliding in a northeast direction, under the Burma plate. Over the days to follow, seismic activity moves gradually north with numerous aftershocks of maximum magnitude of 7.0. The earthquake causes the seabed above the fault line to rise by several metres, triggering a freak wave that engulfs the island of Sumatra. Travelling at a speed of 6-700 kph, it hits the coast of Thailand in just over one hour and a half, causing death and destruction on the beaches frequented by great numbers of western tourists, and sweeping hundreds of meters inland. The same occurs on the islands of Nicobar and those off the Indian coast. About two hours later, the wave hits the coast of Sri Lanka, wiping out coastal populations, followed by the coast of India. The wave strikes the Maldives, at over 2,000 km west of the epicentre, after approximately three hours, and simultaneously hits the African coasts of Somalia and Kenya in the late morning, having travelled thousands of kilometres.
Less than 24 hours after the tsunami, a team from the Department of Civil Protection is in Sri Lanka to provide aid and assistance to the Italian tourists hit by the catastrophe, while other emergency units reach the Maldives and Phuket, in Thailand. Thus begins the work of the Department in Sri Lanka, which follows up the initial emergency operations with an aid program for the tsunami victims including reconstruction work, social assistance and the re-launch of the local economy.
The emergency tsunami Programme, possible thanks also to donations by Italians who took part in the solidarity campaign launched by the Department, carried out 56 reconstruction and development projects between 2004 and 2007:
The donations received at the time came to a total of 50 million euro. With these resources, it has been possible to complete all the activities included in the aid Programme, whose costs and implementation times are reported in a publication that “takes account” of what was done after the tsunami in Sri Lanka until 2007. Two and a half years after the tragedy, all the projects envisaged have been completed and handed over to beneficiaries and local authorities.
Furthermore, upon the closure of the general Programme, some funds, interest accrued and new donations were still available. The Guarantors, with the consent of the Donors’ Committee, have put these amounts towards six new projects, carried out until 2010 in Sri Lanka. The Department of Civil Protection has directly handled relations with the those responsible for carrying out in-field interventions. Like before, these new projects have been subject to the system of monitoring and control of reports already tried and tested in the management of the general interventions Programme.
All the pertinent documentation is available on the website www.emergenzamaremoto.org