Sea by Heidi R. Kling: A Lesson on the 2004 Tsunami


Our June Book of the Month, Sea by Heidi R. Kling takes place in Indonesia six months after the devastating Tsunami. So for today’s feature, we’re giving you a quick lesson on the Tsunami.

On December 26, 2004 — the day after Christmas — a massive, 9.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggering a series of huge Tsunamis. A Tsunami is, essentially, a tidal wave — and some of those triggered by the quake on December 26, 2004 included waves as high as 100 feet.

The Tsunami wiped out villages and homes, killing nearly 230,000 people in Indonesia and other countries along the Indian Ocean.

The triggering earthquake was so powerful, that it set off more quakes along the so-called Ring of Fire — countries bordering the Pacific Ocean — and was felt as far away as Alaska. In fact, the estimated9.1 magnitude quake is the second-largest ever recorded. It is also considered the single most devastating Tsunami on record.

The country hit hardest by the Tsunami was, by far, Indonesia — where an estimated 167,000 people died. And the worst hit area within Indonesia was Aceh — which is an integral part of the story in Sea.

In the aftermath of the tsunami, international aid began pouring in — from countries all over the world. Humanitarian groups came with supplies and doctors, to help keep the survivors healthy and to help them cope with the tragedy and the loss of loved ones. In fact, this very concept is at the heart of Sea — since the story follows a 15-year-old girl who travels with her psychologist father to an orphanage in Indonesia, to help children there cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So while Sea is a work of fiction — it is deeply rooted in recent history. The 2004 Tsunami really happened, and even now — more than five years later — the effects of the Tsunami are still being felt by people in the region. Recovery is not a fast process, and it’s hard to remember that people there still need assistance and guidance, when their needs are no longer part of the daily newscasts.

You can learn more about the 2004 Tsunami online, and tune in later this month for more on news coverage of the 2004 Tsunami, before & after videos from the Tsunami, information on relief agencies, and more.

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