December 26 marks 18 years since a 9.1 magnitude quake off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and nine other countries.
When the quake opened a faultline deep beneath the Indian Ocean, it triggered a wave as high as 17.4 meters (57 feet), wiping some communities off the map in seconds.
Northern Aceh province bore the brunt of the disaster, where a total of 128,858 people were killed, according to statistics compiled by the government and aid agencies.
Over 570,000 people were displaced and 179,000 buildings and homes destroyed in Indonesia as the wave swallowed large parts of the coastline. Massive reconstruction aid in Banda Aceh has since rebuilt a new city on top of the ruins.
Sri Lanka was the next worst-affected country with a death toll of about 40,000, while in Thailand almost 5,400 people were killed including many foreign tourists.
In India, nearly 42,000 people, or close to 10,000 families, were rendered homeless by the waves that struck islands off the eastern coast. More than 3,500 people were killed and nearly 9,000 died on the mainland, mostly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.