Tsunami Destruction of Aceh Province in Sumatra

January 10, 2005


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

This pair of natural-color images from Landsat 7’s Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument shows a small area along the northern Sumatran coast, in Aceh province, where a terrible tsunami, generated by the December 26 earthquake, completely devastated the shoreline. At least 150,000 people lost their lives is this catastrophe, which affected coastal areas across the entire Indian Ocean, from Indonesia to India and all the way to Africa. The island of Sumatra was hardest hit, suffering from both the powerful 9.0 submarine earthquake (the strongest recorded in 40 years) and the tsunami. Within minutes of this quake, the sea surged ashore bringing widespread destruction to Aceh Province -- upwards of 85,000 people were killed. Here, huge waves (greater than 15 m or about 50 ft high) cut a swath of near-total destruction and scoured nearly everything in their path, as shown above. These brutal waves plowed inland at least 1.5 km (roughly 1 mile) along the coasts of western and northern Sumatra.

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