Sri Lanka – The Pearl of Asia.

author: Lakmini Dilhani A

Small Island Sri Lanka is a living paradise known as The Pearl of Asia. It is a beautiful country surrounded by the Indian Ocean. People who live there are humble, kind and always have a friendly smile on their face. The people did not expect a tsunami of Tidal waves to arrive.

Never to forget the Sri Lanka Tsunami.

In 2004, December 26th Sunday Morning, there were blackish-angry tidal waves coming towards the beach of Unawatuna, Columbo and suddenly it pushed back towards the middle of the ocean, dragging the entire sea backwards, exposing the land that just happened to be the bottom of the sea. People got curious and mesmerised by this abrupt situation and started to explore the newly exposed sea bed as no one knew the disaster that is to happen in couple of minutes.

Sixteen years ago that day started as a normal day just after the Christmas celebrations, people were still sleeping and tired after late night parties and family get together as well, due to lots of fun the night prior. They didn’t know that there had been a devilish earthquake near to northern Sumatra- Andaman that can change their lives upside down, while they were having their morning Coffee or getting ready for their daily routines.

A deadly silence. The affected areas from the tidal waves.

Suddenly there were screams, people running for their lives, giant tidal waves crashing and snatching people away, swallowing the large area of land as it enters Sri Lanka  , destroying infrastructure,  houses and everything that come across and then there was silence as if nothing had happened. The ocean was calm again and only the visible destruction and heartache lay bear of those who had luckily survived over the loved ones who sadly passed away. The losses justifies the fact that this was real, not a dream – even pinching my self, to make sure. What really happened, Sumatra-Andaman earthquake caused the rupture along the Burma plate and Indian plate resulting series of massive tidal waves that go higher up to 100ft once heading the inland and massive volume of water destroyed everything that came into contact. This is known as Tsunami Waves. 

Tsunami destroyed two third of costal area in the country that is almost 12 districts out of 25 districts. Nearly 40,000 people were killed, 5000 unfortunately disappeared and some never to be found, more than 800,000 became homeless, 80,000 houses completely destroyed and 40,000 of those houses belonged to poor fishermen. Not only that 72 Hospitals, 122 Schools, 13 fishery harbors, 160 km of Railway, 25 Railway stations, 1615 km of roads, 80 tourists hotels  were destroyed. Many of those people lost their families, friends and people they loved. Families were imbalanced after this tragedy since losing family members, their inheritance, belongings and properties resulting detrimental effect on Sri Lankan social and mental well-being as well as economical, causing the reduction of Economic Development Rate by 0.5%.

Taking Refugee in Sri Lanka. The support & community Rebuilding.

A colossal abundance of those effected helpless people had to take refuge in Schools and other government buildings but within a day,  Government, NGOs, Volunteers from non affected area were able to  donate essential day to day necessities, food, clean water, Sanitary goods to people in need. Once the immediate measures are taken, it was necessary to address the need of rebuilding the community. Therefore, The Centre for National Operations was established by Sri Lankan government to coordinate the relief operation.

Provision of clean water helped in controlling infectious diseases. Government, Volunteers and survivors collected bodies scattered around the affected area and they were preserved until identification. But the fear of epidemics led to mass burials. Victims of Tsunami had to reside in temporary refuge camps until rebuilding of permanent housings are finished. Meantime government and other donations supported the people because they had no any income. Priorities were made to restoring at least the basic education for affected children.

Re-Building Sri Lanka after the Tsunami tidal waves – through unity and love.

A high priority given to restore at least basic education facilities to affected children and by midyear 85% of students in Tsunami affected area were back in school.  Months after the disaster, Sri Lanka succeeded in meeting the immediate needs of affected people, medical assistance was made available, orphaned children were taken into care; basic public services such as education, electricity, security were restored.

Many communities were able to recover with the time though; painful memories will haunt them forever. Every year memorials are held in remembrance of Tsunami for the people we loss, for the people who fought and for the people who supported the victims to rebuild their lives.

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