Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jul 07th
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Strength to Stand Again - A Place To Go To

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Article Index
Strength to Stand Again
A Place To Go To
Shore Of Suffering
A Pure Country
Circle Of Love
Living With Pain
All Pages
The tsunami swept through the coastal areas so suddenly, and with such terrific force, that it damaged 70 percent of the island's coastline and killed over 30,000 people. 

The earthquake occurred to the west of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, and stirred up a 10-meter-high (32-foot) tsunami which churned forward over the Indian Ocean at around 800 kilometers (500 miles) per hour.

Sri Lanka is like a drop of water on the Indian Ocean, which is why it was so severely damaged by the tsunami. One hour after the earthquake, the giant wave swept across the coast, damaging 70 percent of the coastline and killing over 30,000 people. Homes, roads, bridges, crops, and fish were all swept away, and drinking water, electricity, and other basic amenities and infrastructure were completely destroyed. All normal economic activities ceased.

Horrified survivors witnessed not only the deaths of their family members, but also the complete destruction of their homes and belongings. Their hearts were ravaged. The 2004 tsunami will go down in Sri Lankan history as the most damaging natural disaster ever to have occurred in its 2,000-year heritage.

Within 36 hours after the earthquake, Tzu Chi made a decision to send a medical team of 36 doctors, nurses and volunteers to Sri Lanka via Singapore with 1,800 kilograms (3,968 pounds) of medicine and relief goods.

Colombo is both the capital of Sri Lanka and the country's gate to the outside world. In the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, rescue organizations and news teams from around the world were crammed into Colombo. All the local hotels were jammed.

The Tzu Chi team arrived on December 30. With assistance from Graetian Gunawardhana of the Lions's Club of Colombo and Anil de Silva of the Leader Day Company, the team visited the Minister of Health before taking buses to Hambantota, 240 kilometers away. They immediately set up a medical station so that they could begin helping the local hospitals, which were seriously inundated with injured patients.