Ten years ago today, a tremendous earthquake centered just off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra coastline, created an enormous tsunami that spread across the Indian ocean and deluged the coastal communities there. Over 230,000 people died that day.
The coastal regions of countries as far away as South Africa experienced deadly tidal surges. Coastal communities closer to the epicenter had their infrastructure shattered, their tourism and fishing industries destroyed and their populations rendered homeless. In all, 1.74 million people were displaced by the Indian Ocean tsunami.
“Today of all days, we pause to remember those we lost — from farmers and fishers to travelers from our own lands,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. “I know that there are no words to express such a horrific loss. There’s no way to wipe away the pain of parents who lost a child, or children who lost their parents and were forced to assume adult responsibilities at a tender age.”
The entire world responded to the tragedy, mounting the largest ever humanitarian effort. Governments, humanitarian organizations and individuals from around the world sent help or arrived to lend a hand, offer aid or technical support.
The United States sent emergency supplies through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. Military arrived to help in the relief effort, with rescue and support aircraft, a hospital ship, and over 12,600 personnel. Entire towns held fund-raising efforts, while individual citizens collected supplies and donated money.
“We recognize the millions of people who contributed to the recovery effort. And we honor those who have continued to work in the years since to help the victims pick up the pieces and rebuild their communities. The tsunami was one of the worst we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us,” said Secretary Kerry.
“On this day of reflection, we mourn with our friends in Asia and Africa who were affected by this terrible disaster,” said Secretary of State Kerry. “We commit to the hard work still ahead to help the region build safer, more resilient communities. And we pledge our best efforts to leave our children and grandchildren a safer and more sustainable planet. Future generations are counting on us.”