More than 220,000 lives lost in Boxing Day tragedy

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The tsunami which hit Japan and other parts of the Pacific appears to have been less deadly than the Boxing Day disaster which struck in the Indian Ocean in 2004.

Then an earthquake off the western coast of Indonesia, at a depth of more than 200 miles and measuring nine on the Richter scale, caused almost-unimaginable destruction.

It triggered a huge wave which affected a dozen countries and killed over 220,000 people as the deluge swept through the region, submerging some islands entirely.

Indonesia’s western province of Banda Aceh took the brunt of the wave’s power, leading to the loss of 130,000 lives in just a few minutes.

Thailand, Sri Lanka and southern India were also badly affected but it claimed lives 4,000 miles away from the epicentre of the earthquake as Somalia and Kenya were also directly affected.

Several million were left homeless by the disaster as water surged miles inland.

Among the dead were 150 Britons, most of whom were holidaying in Thailand, the biggest loss of life to affect the country in a single event since the 1953 East Coast flooding disaster.

More than £7bn in disaster relief was pledged worldwide for those affected.

Aid agencies faced an overwhelming task but basic needs of survivors were covered within a month of the tragedy even in the remotest regions.

Disaster recovery work included the construction of new wells and water systems, as well as planting mangroves in coastal defences, together with reconstruction work in areas which in some cases had seen entire cities destroyed and investment to help local people work again.

Emergency coordinators in the Pacific were yesterday taking readings about the likely scale of tsunami from deep ocean gauges deployed since the 2004 disaster.

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