Tsunami: Anatomy of a Disaster
The disaster that has literally redrawn the map
At 0:58 GMT on 26 December 2004, the Eurasian and Australia tectonic plates clashed together. The resulting earthquake – the biggest for 40 years – triggered a powerful tsunami. This giant wave carved a path of destruction across the Indian Ocean. Entire towns were swept away, popular holiday destinations were completely destroyed, more than 300,000 people were killed and millions were left in desperate need of food and shelter. It was a natural disaster of unprecedented scale. This is the full account of that day, told exclusively by those who lived through it.
Cut Putri and her family were preparing for a wedding party when the wave struck Banda Aceh. The footage that she shot bears witness to her family’s astonishing struggle for survival. Mark Heather had just held a party to celebrate the opening of his new hotel in Thailand. He witnessed his guests walk forward in fascination as the waters along the beach suddenly receded. Minutes later they were swept away as a wave crashed down with the force of 1000 tons per square metre. The Squire family had planned to spend Boxing Day celebrating their daughter Emma’s eighteen birthday. Instead, they saw the tsunami come in a series of huge waves, one after the other.
With these personal testimonies and more illuminating the science, this programme explains what happened, how it happened, and why. It examines how the behaviour of the wave meant that some places that should have been destroyed were left unharmed, while other places were left shattered. It explains why, in Sri Lanka, the tsunami even changed direction. Above all, this film looks at the lessons learned from the disaster and asks the critical question – need so many people have died?