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Effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on India

For related articles, see 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

In India, 10,136 people, according to official estimates, were killed and hundreds of thousands were rendered homeless when a tsunami triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake near the Indonesian island of Sumatra hit the southern peninsular coast on 26 December 2004. The earthquake registered 9.0 in moment magnitude and was the biggest in five decades. This was followed by strong aftershocks, including a 7.1 magnitude quake in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Disaster snapshot

State Deaths Injured Missing1 Evacuees Refugees
Official1 Estimated
Tamil Nadu 7,960 8,000 500,000 310,000
Andaman & Nicobar 1,310 7,000 200 5,544 17,000 37,000
Pondicherry 590 665 75 70,000 6,100
Andhra Pradesh 105 116 11 34,000 0 (All returned)
Kerala 171 171 700 25,000 25,000
Total 10,136 16,000 900 5,630 650,000 380,000

Tsunami damage in India 1
Factor Andhra Pradesh Kerala Tamil Nadu Pondicherry Total
Population affected 211,000 691,000 2,470,000 43,000 3,415,000
Area affected (km²) 7.9 Unknown 24.87 7.9 40.67
Length of coast affected (km) 985 250 1,000 25 2,260
Extent of penetration (km) 0.5 - 2.0 1 - 2 1 - 1.5 0.30 - 3.0
Reported height of tsunami (m) 5 3-5 7-10 10
Villages affected 301 187 362 26 876
Dwelling units 1,557 11,832 91,037 6,403 110,829
Cattle lost 195 Unknown 5,476 3,445 9,116

Affected states and regions

Andaman and Nicobar

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprise 572 islands (all land masses in both low and high tides) out of which 38 are inhabited, both by people from the mainland and indigenous tribes. The islands lie just north of the earthquake epicentre, and the tsunami reached a height of 15 m in the southern Nicobar Islands. The official death toll is 1,310, and about 5,600 are still missing. The unofficial death toll (including those missing and presumed dead) is estimated to be about 7,000.

The Great Nicobar and Car Nicobar islands were the worst hit among all the islands because of their proximity to the quake and relative flatness. Aftershocks continue to rock the area. One fifth of the population of the Nicobar Islands is said to be dead, injured or missing (). Chowra Island has lost two thirds of its population of 1,500. Entire islands have been washed away, and the island of Trinket has been split in two (). Communications have not been restored with the Nancowry group of islands, some of which have been completely submerged, with the total number of the population still out of contact exceeding 7,000 ().

Among the casualties in Car Nicobar, 111 Indian Air Force personnel and their family members were washed away when the wave hit their air base, which was reported to have been severely damaged (). The St. Thomas Cathedral (also known as the John Richardson church after John Richardson, a missionary and member of parliament) was washed away. The church, established in 1930 was one of the oldest and prominent churches in the region. A cricket stadium named after John Richardson and a statue dedicated to him were also washed away.

The majority of the population of Andaman Islands is made up of people from the mainland, mostly from West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The natives of Andaman and Nicobar Islands are endangered tribal groups, such as the Jarawa, the Sentinelese, the Shompen, the Onge and the Andamanese. They are regarded as anthropologically significant as they are some of the world's most primitive tribes and considered the world's only link to ancient civilisation. Most of these tribes have maintained their aboriginal lifestyle for centuries, and government policy has been to not interfere with them unless absolutely essential.

It is reported that most of the native islanders survived the tsunami because they live on higher ground or far from the coast (). The Onge (with a 2001 census population of 96), Jarawa (240), Sentinelese (39) and Andamanese (43) have been reached by survey teams and are confirmed to be safe although the number of dead is unknown. The Sentinelese live on a reserved island and are hostile to outsiders which is making it difficult for Indian officials to visit the island. They have shot arrows at helicopters sent to check on them. (, , ). In the Nicobar Islands, the Nicobarese, a Southeast Asian-looking tribe (2001 population of 28,653), have lost about 656 lives with 3,000 still missing. Surveys are being conducted on the Shompen (2001 census count of 398) located on Great Nicobar island.

India's only active volcano, Barren 1, located at Barren Island 135 kilometres (80 miles) northeast of the capital Port Blair, erupted because of increased seismic activity on 30 December, 2004. People have been evacuated since then and there have been no reports of any casualties. India was highly affected as 700 children lost their parents.

Andhra Pradesh

The current official toll is 105. The affected districts are Krishna (35 dead), Prakasam (35 dead), Nellore (20 dead), Guntur (4 dead), West Godavari (8 dead) and East Godavari (3 dead).


The current official toll is 168. The affected districts are Kollam (131 dead), Alappuzha (32 dead), Ernakulam (5 dead).


An estimated 30,000 people are homeless in the Union territory of Pondicherry. The current official toll is 560. The affected districts are Pondicherry (107 dead), Karaikal (453 dead).

Tamil Nadu

The state of Tamil Nadu has been the worst affected on the mainland, with a death toll of 7,793. Nagapattinam district has had 5,525 casualties, with entire villages having been destroyed. Kanyakumari district has had 808 deaths, Cuddalore district 599, the state capital Chennai 206 and Kancheepuram district 124. The death tolls in other districts were Pudukkottai (15), Ramanathapuram (6), Tirunelveli (4), Thoothukudi (3), Tiruvallur (28), Thanjavur (22), Tiruvarur (10) and Viluppuram (47).

Those killed in Kanyakumari include pilgrims taking a holy dip in the sea. Of about 700 people trapped at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial off Kanyakumari, 650 were rescued. In Chennai, people playing on the Marina beach and those who taking a Sunday morning stroll were washed away, in addition to the fisherfolk who lived along the shore and those out at sea. The death toll at Velankanni in Nagapattinam district is currently 1,500. Most of these people were visiting the Basilica of the Virgin Mary for Christmas, while others were residents of the town. The nuclear power station at Kalpakkam was shut down after sea water rushed into a pump station. No radiation leak or damage to the reactor was reported (). About 100 casualties were reported from Kalpakkam, all power plant personnel and their families.

Further meteorological/seismic developments

The Indian Meteorological department has warned people in coastal areas to be careful. The seas are predicted to rough due to the after shocks with tidal waves in a few coastal areas. The detailed Met report

The Indian government issued a fresh tsunami alert across India's coastal areas This alert triggered panic in some coastal areas, subsequent to which the government had to issue clarifications to calm the people.

The Andaman region is still experiencing aftershocks of varying intensities.

Aftershocks at Andaman
Date # of aftershocks Intensity
(Richter scale)
26 Dec 2004 26 5.2 to 7.0
27 Dec 2004 16 5.0 to 5.8
28 Dec 2004 9 5.0 to 5.4
29 Dec 2004 12 5.0 to 6.1
30 Dec 2004 6 5.2 to 5.5
31 Dec 2004 12 5.2 to 5.8
1 Jan 2005
(till 16:00)
3 5.0 to 6.3
The government has been asked to remain vigilant in light of these after shocks without affecting the relief and rescue operations and normal life.

Government ex gratia

Ex Gratia
S.No. Government Ex gratia
1 Government of India The Prime Minister has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 1,00,000
(one lakh rupees) to the next of kin of each deceased.
The ex-gratia payment will be made from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
2 State Government of Tamil Nadu The Chief Minister has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 1,00,000 (one lakh) to the families of each of the victims.
Source: (The Hindu)
3 State Government of Kerala Ex gratia of Rs. 50,000 to the next kin of those killed.
Assistance of Rs. 10,000 for the families of the deceased, to meet the funeral expenses.
4 Union Territory of Pondicherry The Chief Minister N Rangasamy has announced an ex gratia of Rs 1,00,000 (one lakh) to the next of kin of the dead.
The administration would also pay an ex gratia of Rs 5000 towards funeral expenditure.
For those injured in the disaster, the administration would provide Rs 5000.
A sum of Rs 10,000 to enable the homeless to reconstruct houses.
Source: (NewKerala)

Helping out

The following bodies and agencies are seeking public help and contributions:

  • Indian Prime Minister's National Relief Fund

The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has issued an appeal for contributions You can find more information about the relief fund You can find the form for contribution at

requests on-line donations to provide for immediate relief to disaster victims

India's assistance to other quake-affected countries

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, along with the Indian defence forces and Home Ministry, is coordinating relief operations to Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.

Operation Castor (assistance to Maldives)

Three vessels have been launched for Male.

  • INS Mysore (two helicopters, reaching Male on 20 Dec 2004)
  • INS Udaygiri (one helicopter, reaching Male on Dec 29, 2004)
  • INS Aditya (one helicopter carrying water and a water purification plant, medical teams, reaching Male on 30 Dec 2004)

Operation Rainbow (assistance to Sri Lanka)

  • INS Sharda
  • INS Sutlej

Operation Ghambir (assistance to Indonesia)

  • INS Nirupak - The hospital ship leaves for Sumatra, Indonesia on 30 Dec 2004. It will be carrying emergency rations, medicines, tents and first aid kits. It will have 10 officers and 240 sailors on board.

See also

External links

Tsunami related pages & official sites of affected regions

Indian media coverage

International media coverage

Blogs and websites

Other aid efforts

India tsunami impact satellite imagery

Photographs of the disaster

Reports on earthquakes in India

Related organisations

Disaster management in India

Meteorological agencies

Other forums & discussions

  • A forum dedicated to the support of the on-going disaster relief work.


Note 1: Taken from the latest report at National Disaster Management Division's site

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