The Tsunami in Numbers - Stats and Facts

Scale of the devastation of the Boxing-day tsunami

1. 275,000 people were killed in fourteen countries across two continents, with the last two fatalities being swept out to sea in South Africa, more than twelve hours after the earthquake.

2. 40,000 to 45,000 more women than men were killed in the tsunami.

3. US $ 9.9 billion was originally estimated to be the value of economic, infrastuctural and human development losses.

4. 141,000 houses were destroyed, which accounts for 47.9 percent of the total damage (BRR & World Bank, 2005).

5. Over 600,000 people in Aceh lost their livelihoods (in some cases only for a few months) including all those in the fishery sector and 30 percent of those in agriculture.

6. A 1,200km section of the earth's crust shifted beneath the Indian ocean and the earthquake released stored energy equivalent to over more than 23,000 Hiroshima bombs.

7. Speeds of 500km/h were reached as the tsunamis radiated through the Indian Ocean.

8. Tsunamis reached 20m in height at landfall in parts of Aceh. In other locations they spread 3 km inland carrying debris and salt water with them. The retreating waters eroded whole shorelines.

9. Within ten minutes of the earthquake, tsunami waves started to strike the Nicobar and Andaman Islands. Banda Aceh was struck within another ten minutes.

10. Within two hours of the earthquake, both Thailand and Sri Lanka had been hit. The east cost of India was hit shortly afterwards.

11. Three hours after the earthquake tsunamis rolled over the Maldives and more than seven hours after, hit the Somali coast.

12. Over 1,000 German and Swedish tourists were killed. Germany and Sweden were the worst affected countries outside the region and lost more citizens than all but the four most affected countries.

The scale of the public response to the tsunami

1. About US $14 billion was raised internationally. The scale of the generous public response was unprecedented, not only in the amount of money raised but also in the proportion of funding from the general public, and the speed with which money was pledged or donated.

2. US $ 2.5 billion at least, was added to the above amount by Governments of affected countries.

3. US $190 million was donated by the population of the affected countries recorded through formal channels. There is no reliable estimate of the economic value of the contribution of the affected population to their own survival. Other forms of help from neighbours, such as providing accommodation or food, is rarely quantified in monetary terms and so it impossible to value what communities have done for themselves.

4. This funding is less than the cost of a single large defence contract, such as refuelling a tanker or fighter plane. The report is calling on developed countries to increase their official development assistance (ODA) to reach the minimum net amount of 0.7 per cent of their gross national product as promised at the 1970 UN General Assembly.

5. US $250 million worth of support was provided across the region by the United States military.

6. An average of US $ 7,000 was raised for every affected person which contrasts starkly, for example, to funding of only US $4 per head actually spent on someone affected by floods in Mozambique.

7. 91 percent of those interviewed in Indonesia reported that they had been rescued by private individuals.

Comparisons to the scales of other natural disasters

1. The forth largest earthquake of recent times was the Boxing Day tsunami.

2. The past forty years has seen disasters that have killed, displaced and affected more people, or have spread across more countries than the tsunami. While the scale of the response was unprecedented, the scale of the disaster was not:

  • A storm surge in the Bay of Bengal in 1970 killed 300,000 to 500,000 in one night. History was repeated in 1991 when another cyclone caused 138,000 deaths.
  • The Tangshan Earthquake in China killed at least 255,000 in 1976.
  • Flooding in Bangladesh in 2004 destroyed over 1 million homes, displaced over 4 million people, and affected over 30 million people.