Today – it is ten years since the tsunami resulting from the Indian Ocean earthquake . Sri Lanka was the country second hardest hit, where around 40,000 people were killed. Despite long time, you can still today see many evidence from this horrible natural catastrophe.
I remember well that I was shocked that there were still so many evidence after this tsunami, during my visit to Sri Lanka. It was something I did not expect, as I was there so many years after it happened.
Maybe what made the most impression on me was a visit to the Yala National Park. There we came over what once a hostel, placed on the beach. Today, it is just the foundation left. When the Tsunami waves struck the Yala National Park, the 26th of December 2004 at 9.20 a.m. it took the lives of fifteen Japanese and German visitors. In addition to twenty nine local visitors.
How horrible it was to stand there, knowing that many of these people were there on Christmas holiday. Some laying on the beach enjoying, other eating breakfast, and some maybe still in bed. While others strolling around in the beautiful park. And then, out of nowhere, the tsunami strikes and put a stop to all of this. I remember standing there in front of this hostel and I pictured the wave coming in. There was nowhere to run to safety. Nowhere, to escape in a flat environment. Even the whole hostel was washed away.
But this is not the only place in Sri Lanka where you see evidence. When traveling around the coast, you will see several houses destroyed. Many of them never rebuild. Some, because the whole family died. Others, due to a policy made after the tsunami, that you cannot have a house closer than 100 meters from the coast line. Despite this rule and concerns about that something like this will happen again, many still live a few meters from the sea.
During my trip in Sri Lanka, I also got to talk to some local people that had lost everything they had that day. Including all their family members. Heartbreaking! But also a reminder on that things can change in seconds. Going from being in paradise to hell, in just a moment.
I also experienced how powerful the sea can be with or without a monster wave like a tsunami. Because in Sri Lanka the waves are really big and strong. Even if you are sitting meters from the sea, you can suddenly be hit by a big wave. That happened to me. I also witnessed it happen to many of my friends as well.
My friend, Claudia, after a big wave suddenly hit her. She is smiling, as nothing serious happened, despite being wet. But others have been very injured due to sudden big waves. Like my professor and his friend once while walking on the beach. And imagine – these waves are nothing compared to the wave that came the 26th of december 2004.
After my trip to Sri Lanka, I went to the Maldives. After what I had witnessed in Sri Lanka, I started questioned why very few died during the tsunami in the Maldives, when living on small flat islands. I would guess that it would be the most vulnerable place to be during such a natural catastrophe. After doing some research, I found that the coral reeves around the islands, had stopped much of the waves, and protected the islands as well as the people there.
That being said, I know that Sri Lanka, was not the only country affected. So, let us on this day, remind all the victims from the horrific tsunami in 2004. Everyone that sadly lost their lives, or knew someone that did in Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, or even Somalia. A little post in their memory – 10 years after.