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Tsunami - Anatomy of a Disaster -

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(generated from captions) THEME MUSIC NARRATOR: For so many people, had been a wonderful day. Christmas 2004 On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, as they took a trip to the beach, Cut Putri filmed her family close to the city of Banda Aceh. we went to the beach. CUT PUTRI: At Christmas Day, And the beach is so beautiful. a lot of fun, So beautiful, a lot of people, a lot of beautiful moments. Everyone seemed happy. We all enjoyed that day. just held the party of a lifetime. Hotel manager Mark Heather had from the opening of his luxury hotel His guests were recovering on Thailand's Khao Lak Beach. because the atmosphere was lovely, Christmas Day was great actually got open and were running. the staff were excited that we'd and a party for the guests. We had a special party going on, like clockwork, and it did. It all had to run well, We weren't sure it'd work. that it'd gone well. By Boxing Day I was just so relieved Now we're really cruising." It was, "Ah! We've done it. Great. with her family Emma Squire had spent the holidays on the paradise island of Sri Lanka. Boxing Day was her 20th birthday. they were about to be caught up All were unaware that in living memory. in one of the worst natural disasters that felt it first. It was the elephants Early on the morning of the 26th, above Thailand's Indian Ocean a herd in the hills suddenly became agitated. for our guests TRANSLATION: We were waiting of the day, to begin the second jungle tour kicking their legs, like this. but then the elephants started

fling her trunk all over the place, At the same time, she started to with her ears spread out wide. looking nervous, Then suddenly, she stood still, something was happening. like she knew tugging violently at her chains, Then the elephant started

fighting to break away. stunned. "What's happening?" TRANSLATION: I was completely "She never plays up like this." disobeyed me and wouldn't come. I tried to call her back, but she Moments later, she broke away. (trumpets) for the keeper to catch her. It took hours Elephants have ultra-sensitive feet. we do not even notice. They can feel vibrations sensed tremors The elephant had almost certainly in recorded history. from the second-biggest earthquake that had ruptured 500 miles away. A magnitude 9.3 Deep under the Indian Ocean, in Indonesia, just off the coast of Sumatra, in the Earth's crust. lies a huge gash

carrying the continent of India Here, the vast geological plate carrying South-East Asia, is thrust deep under the plate creating enormous stresses. LOW RUMBLING these stresses were released. And on Boxing Day last year, In just eight minutes, was ripped apart. 750 miles of fault On the nearby island of Simeulue, tilted the whole island up. the sheer force of the earthquake for thousands of years Coral reefs that had been underwater were thrust to the surface. were pushed metres out of the water. Whole strips of rock at jetties now surrounded by land. And boats were left stranded struck Banda Aceh with such a force And on Sumatra itself, the quake to the ground. that people were thrown Cut Putri was at her family's house. there was an earthquake. CUT PUTRI: Around 8:00, It was like, just a little shaking. getting harder and harder. Then suddenly, the earthquake And last a matter of seconds. Most earthquakes This one lasted almost 10 minutes. the worst seemed to be over. But when it stopped, "Hope this is all over." We were just praying - and went to outside our house. We get up - all of us get up - No, no panic at all. We go... We just... no-one had any idea And at this stage, something far more deadly... that these tremors had set in motion ..a tsunami. had been displaced 150 miles away, a huge body of water ruptured the sea floor. as the earthquake LOUD RUMBLING now sends a series of waves The energy released surging out from the epicentre. at just a foot high, In the open ocean, they were barely noticeable. over 100 billion tonnes. But each one weighed BRIGHT MUSIC flexibility and fitness, To enhance your the 'Sun Herald' tomorrow. make sure you get yoga DVD It includes a free full work-out of Byron Bay, shot on the stunning beaches plus you'll also get part one series. of our special 'Fit for Life'

Get the 'Sun Herald' tomorrow. Wake up to a new flexible you. after the first earth tremors, In Banda Aceh, 30 minutes Putri was filming her family. for a wedding in town that morning. They were dressed up Putri's uncle, a local policeman, to inspect the damage from the quake. was just setting off Then they heard something. (hums) And then after that sound, and louder. suddenly it started getting louder (hums) Like that. It's standing like this. Then I saw the wave. It's like a wall. Very black. PANICKED SHOUTING My father suddenly yelled very loud, get to the second floor. yelling, "Come on, everybody, "Up, up, up!" was up to the top floor, 20ft high. In seconds, this wall of water to the roof. And there was no escape route and countless others nearby Four of the family with her never made it to safety. CRYING was washed away with his car. Her uncle, the policeman, a week later, His body was only found three miles away. CRYING I take a breath. I know maybe this is the last time Maybe this is my last day. SOBBING a deadly cargo... The wave also carried with it ..thousands of tonnes of debris. so that they would drown This would hold people under or would shatter their bones. it brings a lot of things - PUTRI: When the first wave came, and a lot of people, too. houses, trees "Please, help me. Please help me." And then they yelled at us, But we cannot do anything. We really can't do anything. Just we yelled to the people in the water, "We're sorry. We're so sorry. We can't do anything. "Please just remember God. Just remember God." With the debris came bodies and survivors, washed into the house from miles away.

This man was lucky. Minutes later, he was pulled free. Shortly after, the waters began to recede and wash back to the sea. It was then that Putri saw a second wave surging towards them. Though a mile inland, her house had now become the front shore. Further inland, panic spread through the town centre as this second wave broke across the river. HORNS BEEP, PANICKED SHOUTS It sent a huge surge, swollen by river water, deep into the city. A local cameraman called Hashimi filmed these pictures near the central mosque, two miles inland. Three miles upriver, people desperately rode with the debris as it rushed inland. Even here, thousands more would die. Satellite pictures show how whole neighbourhoods were swept away. This was Banda Aceh's busy port area. No more. Within minutes, the whole of northern and western Banda Aceh, home to more than 100,000 people... ..was gone. Even now, months on, mile upon mile of Banda Aceh is just rubble and dust. Yet even here, the tsunami was not at its most powerful. To see evidence of that, you have to go further along the coast. To the beaches where Putri filmed... ..on Christmas Day. The wave that came in here, directly facing the earthquake's epicentre just 100 miles away, was as high as any recorded that day. It tore away trees and vegetation 60ft above the waterline. It capsized this freighter, with the loss of all crew. It tossed this massive barge filled with tonnes of iron ore high onto the beach. And it travelled four miles in-shore, leaving this entire area with only one building standing - the mosque. In total, this region of Sumatra lost more than 200,000 people... just 15 minutes. And at this stage, no-one in the outside world knew anything about it. CHIMES TINKLE That morning in Thailand, Sameth Dharmasaroja had been listening to his radio when he heard reports of the giant Indonesian earthquake. Once, he had been Thailand's leading earthquake expert, but seven years earlier he was moved from his position when he'd warned of the dangers of tsunamis. The authorities felt he would frighten away the tourists. But now, hearing of the earthquake and fearing the worst, he urgently tried to reach his former colleagues. His first call was to the head of Thailand's Met Office. TRANSLATION: I have a lot of experience in this field, and I was sure that a quake of that size would definitely trigger a tsunami. But I couldn't get hold of the Director-General,

because his mobile phone was engaged. In fact, the Thai Met Office did learn the a magnitude 8.0 earthquake had occurred off Indonesia. It even issued a statement. But with one crucial omission. TRANSLATION: The Met's Director-General only announced

that there was a major earthquake, and where the epicentre was. But he didn't mention anything about a tsunami. It seems that the Thai authorities decided not to issue a tsunami warning, for fear of alarming people unnecessarily. And then, all along the coast of west Thailand the waters began to recede. Early that morning, resort manager Mark Heather was still flush with the success of his hotel's opening night. He was watching some of his guests enjoy themselves on the beach when he realised something strange was happening. I came out of the lobby and looked down,

then saw that the sea seemed to have gone out. Then I walked down to the beach wondering what on earth it was, and then I saw the sea had gone out maybe a couple of kilometres. And there were two Thai Royal Navy patrol boats about a good kilometre or so off the beach, and they were grounded. I tried to logically think, "What is it?" And that's when I was trying to think, "Maybe it's a high tide or a low tide." Then I remembered that I'd seen an 'Horizon' program a good 10 or 15 years ago.

And I remembered, part of it -

an old Japanese guy saying, as a kid, he'd watch the sea go out then come back in a big way. That's when I got frightened. This recede was seen up and down the Thai coast. It is the classic warning sign of an approaching tsunami. When the waves spread out from the earthquake, they moved in one of two ways. Some set off with the crest, the highest part of the wave, out front. Others travelled trough-first. It was the trough of the wave that reached the coast of Thailand first.

Acting like a sudden low tide, it sucked all the water out from the beaches. Thousands of people, unaware of the danger looming on the horizon, just watched in fascination. I started to tell people, "Get to high ground, get to higher ground." But nobody was really moving. There was no sense of panic, no sense of urgency, there was no sense of "Move now!" because it didn't look threatening.

And then, one hour and ten minutes after the initial earthquake, the tsunami crashed into Thailand. PANICKED SHOUTING

As the wave came into Thailand's shallow waters, the trough slowed down. The crest then came piling in behind and the wave reared up. MAN: Tsunami! MAN: Get in! Get in! Get in! A thousand tonnes of water came crashing down on each meter of beach. Your instinct says, "Run, run, run." That's when I thought, "Well, can you outrun it?" And "Is the building high enough?" I thought, "If it's bigger than three storeys, you can't outrun it." So I ran upstairs. Some of my staff just ran. Their first thought was to run away. And, of course, they didn't make it. MAN: Oh, my God, look at the waves coming. Clear out, people! Clear out! I hope no-one was out there. As the waves still swept through resorts along the coast, Mark Heather, filmed here in the white shirt, had managed to make it onto the roof of his hotel. There, realising the power of the wave,

his thoughts turned to his family. who'd been staying at his house 1.5 miles inland.

I didn't know whether they'd got out. And I almost started to cry,

thinking about the whole family gone, because I had my mother and father come on holiday, I had the new baby, my wife. And then a young English guy said, "You've gotta keep it together." And I just stopped and I thought, "Okay, just try and do what you can around here." And I tried not to think about what was happening at home. Hours later, tired and exhausted, Mark finally made it back home through the ruins to his family. They were all safe and well. Along the Thai coast, it's estimated the tsunami caused billions of pounds worth of damage. But the human cost was far worse.

More than 5,000 people had lost their lives. 3,000 more are still missing. Hello, Nick McArdle updating Seven Sport. Australia has a battle on its hands to save the fourth Ashes Test. We're 5/99 in reply to England's 477.

The Swans by 54 points over Hawthorn in their last minor round match. And Matt Giteau is the latest Wallaby ruled out of next week's Tri-Nations clash against the All Blacks. He's hoping to be fit for the Spring Tour of Europe. Today, I'm with the Watson family and we're gonna make a delicious butternut pumpkin soup. So, just slice it up... Thanks, kids. And pop it in the blender. That's my job, is it? OK. You know what I think? It's probably best if we just leave it to the experts. Campbell's - the experts in soup. Mmm. Wow! Um... Oh, OK. Oh, yeah. I see what they're doing there. As Thailand was recovering from the shock and power of the tsunami, another series of waves were heading westwards. Travelling through the deeper water of the open ocean, these waves reached far higher speeds - nearly 500mph. Now, in their way was Sri Lanka. But here, the waves would strike in a completely different way from those that hit Thailand. Life in so much of Sri Lanka is lived by the sea. There are few coastal protections here. No-one has ever needed them. Thousands live just above the high-water mark, working as fishermen or looking after tourists. That December 26th was Emma Squire's 20th birthday. She was on holiday with her family in Arugam Bay, on Sri Lanka's east coast, now directly in the path of the tsunami. EMMA: I was woken up at about 8:45 by my dad coming in to say happy birthday to me. I was slightly disgruntled, as it was so early in the morning, but, um, I didn't mind, 'cause I had a few presents to wake up to. And then my mum came in about two seconds after to give me a kiss and say happy birthday as well. Though the earthquake had happened an 1.5 hours earlier, no word of warning had reached their resort. Then, suddenly, the waters came. DISTANT SCREAMS EMMA: I heard my mum suddenly scream my name, "Emma! Emma!" I ignored her at first, but then her screams became louder and louder, and just more desperate. The tsunami that hit Sri Lanka's east coast gave no warning. There was no recede. This wave hit crest-first, so there was no trough to suck the water out. It just came in like a huge in-rushing tide. I opened the door to my bathroom, and water kind of surged in up to my knees.

Soon, Emma was engulfed. It very quickly reached the ceiling, and I was up against the ceiling. Then I remember thinking, if it reaches the top of the ceiling, then I'm going to have no way of getting out. So, I took a final breath. I remember thinking, "How far does this water go up, up?" I mean, will I ever reach the surface and be able to breath? Pretty soon after that, I lost consciousness. Emma's dad, Phil, and her mum, Louise, were also caught in the maelstrom. The restaurant roof caved in and fell on my wife who was clutching one of the pillars. At that point, I felt that Louise might have died. Phil dived into the water, in a vain bid to rescue his wife, but both were just swept away by the wave.

I was pushed in this current towards, um, this tree. I managed to grab hold of a branch, um, to try and pull myself up into the tree. But as she climbed up into the tree, Louise found she wasn't the only survivor taking refuge there. As I grabbed hold of the branch, um, a snake bit me. It just didn't occur to me that I might die from a snake bite at that point. I thought I'd much more likely die of the flood. Looking around, one saw an enormous amount of debris, people floating past. Um, there were people up every other tree. This noise of this water just tumbling past one with debris breaking up. And in the background, you could hear people calling and screaming. It was just... It was devastating.

So far, Sri Lanka had been hit by just one wave. DISTANT SCREAMS But now, a succession of monsters began battering the east coast, and as far north as India. 100 billion-tonne waves were striking the coast every half-hour. On Sri Lanka's east coast, the last to hit, the sixth, was also the biggest. That final surge of water was absolutely terrifying, because trees were going past us, and one knew it was a much, much stronger, forceful surge of water. And I was terrified that it would take the tree away with me. Then, the waters finally subsided. By now, the Squire family were all separated. No-one knew where anyone else was. EMMA: I was just so sure that none of them had survived. And I just felt so alone. Completely alone. I knew that if they hadn't survived, I wouldn't want to survive. LOUISE: I just knew, at that stage, that there was no way I could come back to the UK and walk into my own house without my family. It never occurred to me that maybe one or two of them might have survived. I just assumed that they'd all... ..all died. Now, able to come down from the tree,

Louise ran to higher ground. There, finally, after hours apart, she saw her husband, Phil. He came in followed by every single member of my family. And there we all were, and it was just the most incredible reunion. go from thinking you'd lost every single one of them to having them all there - unbelievably, all there - was just... ..totally amazing. MAN: Darling, have you seen my shirt? (Woman whispers) We don't disturb the beans Darling, have you seen my pants? Honey? (Woman whispers) So you won't want to be disturbed QUIRKY MUSIC CONTINUES Sure. VOICEOVER: With the flexibility of a wagon what else do you need? New Astra Wagon. It's a confidence thing. NetBank Saver, our online account with this big rate. Conditions apply. And how fast can you get your hands on your money? VROOM! This fast. QUIRKY COMPUTER SOUNDS & MUSIC SONG: # Get rhythm

# Get rhythm when you get the blues... # No matter what you're building, brighter people are using products made from BlueScope Steel materials, like XLERPLATE and COLORBOND steel. # When you get the blues. # But the wave had not finished with Sri Lanka just yet. It was about to do something that no-one had expected. Something that would devastate parts of the country that should've been completely safe. The wave began to change direction.

As the tsunami swept past Sri Lanka, the inner part of the wave hit the shallow ocean shelf, close to the land, slowing it down to less than 100mph. So, the outer part of the wave that was still travelling at some 500mph, overtook it, bending the tsunami around the island - an effect known as refraction. It meant that towns that were not in the wave's direct line were suddenly vulnerable. This what happened to Galle, one of Sri Lanka's busiest ports. It lay on coastline facing away from the tsunami's path. But as the wave wheeled around the island's southern tip, it slammed into the city. In this region alone, over 4,000 people died. The refracted wave now began to change once again. As it turned around Sri Lanka's southern tip, it started to break up into smaller swells - a process known as defraction. These waves now hurtled up Sri Lanka's west coast... ..the side of the island that should've been safe. Here, their effects were completely unpredictable. That day, the beach resort of Hikkaduwa was filled with tourists for the Christmas holidays. They were now in the wave's path. Diving instructor Dharshana

was preparing to take a group of tourists out when the water started to act oddly. TRANSLATION: I was surprised. I'd never seen anything like this before. Usually, the sea is flat, but today the sea started dancing, like boiling water. These waves were totally different to anything experienced elsewhere. What was odd was that there was no vast deluge. TRANSLATION: The wave came up to about our knee level. Then we tried to rescue our equipment. I remember saving four boats. We tried to save the other things but we failed, and they floated away. The waves that struck here destroyed buildings and businesses, but for once, relatively few people lost their lives. The tsunami's break-up, or defraction, had sent Hikkaduwa just a small swell. But further up the coast, the same process created a monster. This stretch of coastline, on what should've been the safe side of the island, and just a few miles north of Hikkaduwa, was ravaged. The waves reached 20ft high, and smashed into the coastal railway line, hurling carriages into the trees. 1,700 people died here. It was the worst train disaster in history. Good evening.

A pilot has died performing aerobatics off Warriewood on the Northern Beaches. Witnesses say the aircraft hit the water and exploded. Sydney drivers are angrily adjusting to street closures ahead of tomorrow's Cross City Tunnel opening. Police have arrested five men in relation to the record seizure of ephedrine found hidden in ceramic statues. And a group of Aussie athletes have begun training to make the Winter Olympics bobsled team. Early fog tomorrow then fine, tops around 21 degrees. BOY: Where can I find the perfect gift for Dad? UHF radio twin pack - just $49, And you can't beat 10/10. Mitre 10 Big Book out now. I've been training my whole life for this and I'm in peak conditioning for Holden's Really Quick Deals. Like... Mmm! Wheatgrass. CD Astra for only $21,990,

Well, come on. Quick! Holden means a great deal to Australia. Ohh! There goes the hammy! No higher than a few feet above the ocean, the Maldives are the most vulnerable country on earth to a giant wave. It's 300,000 inhabitants and visitors seemed to be all under threat. And when the wave struck, on the side of the country exposed to its full force, 80 people died. But on most of the islands, something extraordinary happened. They were hardly touched.

The waves just passed straight through. It's now believed that the Maldives owe their escape to their extraordinary geology. Plunging sharply down for miles to the seabed, every island is at the tip of a giant underwater volcano, Unlike in Thailand and Sri Lanka, there was no continental shelf pushing the wave up. The tsunami would essentially have passed either side of each island.

And there may have been something else. The Maldives are surrounded by coral. They make up a huge underwater mesh. This may well have absorbed the energy of the tsunami... ..stripping the wave of power before it hit the shore. In the days after the disaster, a huge worldwide relief effort was mounted. Food and medical supplies poured into the devastated areas. To Indonesia and India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. But as the world began to come to terms with the catastrophe, one vital question emerged. Need so many people have died? It has since become clear that in 2003, governments around the Indian Ocean considered and then rejected an oceanwide early warning system.

Who knows how many lives might have been saved had they gone ahead. In Indonesia, there were just 30 minutes between the earthquake and the tsunami striking the coast. Not enough time to evacuate everyone, but time enough to save some had there been any warning. And across the sea in Thailand, the wave hit the coast and hour and 10 minutes after the earthquake. Plenty of time for people to get to higher ground if only they'd known it was coming. Had we had just five minutes notice, I could've got everybody up to the third floor. That's all I needed was five minutes, because it's a very small hotel. We had, all up, about 250 people here that day, and we could've got them all to safety with five minutes notice. It wouldn't have been much. In Thailand, at least something is being done. Sameth Dharmasaroja, the man who was removed for frightening the tourists with his predictions of an imminent tsunami, has since been reinstated. TRANSLATION: After the disaster, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was satisfied. Not glad, but satisfied, that my prediction had been proven right. But what I felt even more was sadness, because our words, predictions and analysis couldn't help all the people who lost their lives. Sameth's task is to build a multimillion-pound early warning system for Thailand. The first phase should be ready by July 2005. Which is just as well. Some researchers now believe the giant rupture of Sumatra has increased the likelihood of another earthquake by adding stresses to neighbouring faults. The experiences of Boxing Day last year, some fear, could be repeated at any time. For the people who lived through the disaster, there are even more immediate concerns. In Thailand, Mark Heather has started to rebuild his hotel. He's finding it harder to rebuild his life. I feel great sadness, and horrific loss of the people I've worked with. But the scale of it is just so big that it's difficult to grieve, because it's just so huge.

It's just massive. I mean, it's 6,000 and counting just in this little area around here. So everybody has somebody who has...died. SOLEMN MUSIC Three months on, the people of Banda Aceh have little need to dwell on the events of that day. The tragedy here is on such a scale that it will touch everyone and everything for decades to come. Cut Putri and her brother alone lost 40 members of their extended family. But even now, they only look forward. CUT PUTRI: First message that we have to think is about how useless are people in front of God. We're just...just human. We have no power at all. I don't want to be so long in the sadness, 'cause I know I'm still alive. I have to do something. Have to do something and rebuild our life. People in Banda Aceh have a very big spirit.

Giving love to each other, without seeing differences between all. Just being united in the name of humanity. I think it's a very big message.