About Tsunami

The tsunami that struck twelve nations in the Indian Ocean region was triggered by an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale just off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on 26th December, 20041. Over several hours, the tsunami - a series of giant tidal waves –caused severe destruction along miles of coastline. What was unusual about the Tsunami was that it simultaneously and without any warning, affected several countries and populations. India was the third most-affected country after Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

Without recourse to international assistance, India has been able to respond adequately to the disaster, which damaged the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Pondicherry and the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. On the Indian mainland, Tamil Nadu was the worst affected state with official death tolls placing the dead at more than 8000 people. It is estimated that nearly 76 percent of those killed on the mainland were from the southern district of Nagapattinam, the worst affected in India.

Total Area hectares 2.7 lakh hectare
Total Population  14.88 lakhs
Urban Population  3.3 lakhs
Rural Population 11.58 lakhs
Affected Population 1.96 lakhs
Fishermen 87%
Agricultural Laborers 5%
Traders 5%
rists/Pilgrims 3%

The devastation in Nagapattinam has severely affected about 80 villages. Many more have faced damage in varying degrees. Fishing villages dominate this coastal district and nearly 70 percent of the severely affected villages are fishing villages. Akkarapettai and Keechankuppam have been the most badly affected villages in Nagapattinam with over a 1000 affected families. In many villages, the loss of life was estimated by the number of bodies recovered rather than those dead, as the sea swept people off one coast and washed their bodies up a different shore.

The scale of damage in Nagapattinam

The tsunami left around 6065 people dead and the entire coastline devastated in the district. Around 73 habitations in 38 Revenue Villages and 5 Taluks were affected. Out of these, 1776 were children (887 male, 889 females) which is approximately one-third of the total dead and 2406 were women. The high death toll of children and women highlighted the fact that Tsunami had caught people unawares. A possible explanation for the high number of deaths among women was that the tsunami struck at a time when most of them were in the shore receiving their men folk returning from the sea. Added to this was the fact that it was a day after the Christmas and a Sunday morning, which had a large number of people, enjoying the morning breeze. Nagapattinam district alone accounted for 76 percent of the deaths of entire state and was the worst affected district in India. In the education front, 41 Elementary/Primary Schools, 2 High Schools and 1 Higher Secondary School were damaged. On the health side 4 Public Health Centres (PHCs) and one Government Hospital was damaged.

An overview of the devastation


Tamil Nadu



Human Loss








Cattle Loss








No. of Person Evacuated

4.70 lakhs

1.96 lakhs



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