Today marks the 14 th anniversary of the holocaust event of Tsunami that unprecedentedly struck the coastal belt of Sri Lanka in 2004. This was the first of its kind natural disaster in Sri Lanka that killed and displaced a large number of people and caused a hefty economic as well as environmental damage.
Fourteen years ago in 26 December 2004, when the people were still celebrating the most joyous festival of the year, Christmas, dramatically high giant sea waves travelled inland as speedily as jet planes, leaving no clue for the people of what should be done impromptu.
It was only a handful of people those who were engaged in the amusement as well as livelihood activities on coastal belt that had the providence of saving their lives. Nevertheless, animals that sensed the forthcoming catastrophe had moved away from the coastal areas.
The Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 not only hit Sri Lanka, but also many countries in the South as well as South East Asian region that are located in the boarder of the Indian ocean such as India, Indonesia, Thailand and Maldives. The Indian Ocean Tsunami killed approximately 250,000 people who were enjoying their festive holiday as well those engaging in their living.
Among the dead were thousands of tourists from the western countries who were vacationing in those Asian countries, aside from the locals. The highest death toll of about 200,000 was reported from Indonesia while Sri Lanka ranked second in place with over 30,000 deaths. Over 100,000 families were displaced and the villages, towns, places of social and religious importance were also pulverized in the coastal areas of Sri Lanka.
After 14 years of the Asia’s most deadly Boxing Day Tsunami catastrophe, Indonesia experienced another cataclysmic Tsunami event on 22 December that took over 400 lives, injured over 1400 and displaced over 15,000 people, four days prior to the Tsunami anniversary.
This catastrophe, however, sent waves of shock across Sri Lanka too, if the same can affect the country. Nevertheless, the respective authorities have informed the public that Sri Lanka has no tendency to be affected by that Tsunami that caused by a sea volcanic eruption.
It should be mentioned that, if Tsunami would strike Sri Lanka again, it can deter the development process of the country at large. The country has already experienced a short stint anarchic period which affected the economy. The Northern part of the country is severely affected by floods causing damages and losses.
Although, Sri Lanka could recover the economic loss to a certain degree with the foreign aids during the Tsunami catastrophe in 2004, it cannot be assuredly said that the affected were able to regain their previous economic as well as social status, let alone their psychological state.
The economic impact of the 2004 catastrophe has been estimated, but not the psychological factor. Those who were fortunate enough to save their lives after they had lost almost everything such as their hard earned property, belongings, valuables and loved ones, it was no cake walk for them to return to ordinary life.
Pain is a common occurrence in humans when they are faced with distressing and harrowing events in life. Thousands of our brethren who lost their hard earned belongings must have been able to re-gain them and might have re-instated their livelihood. Albeit, they might not have been able to completely eliminate their psychological agony that torment them especially on a day like this.
Let us, as a nation pray for them to heal their minds!
While commemorating the Tsunami anniversary across the country today, let us not forget those who were impelled to spend the festive season under dire conditions in the Northern areas of the country. Let us include them in our prayers too.