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How we helped tsunami survivors

A Red Cross delegate surveys tsunami destruction in Sri Lanka© InfoAn earthquake registering 9 on the Richter Scale struck off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia on Boxing Day morning, 2004. It triggered tidal waves up to 30 feet high that swept into coastal villages and seaside resorts. The earthquake was felt as far away as Bangladesh, and the resulting tsunami was so powerful it killed more than 225,000 people in eleven countries.

After the tsunami struck, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement mobilised thousands of staff and volunteers across the affected region to carry out search and rescue, relief distribution and a range of health activities, from first aid to psychological support.

As emergency response turned to recovery, the Red Cross continued to be at the forefront of operations. By May 2009, the British Red Cross completed its work helping people recover from the devastating tsunami in Indonesia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Indonesia, Maldives and Sri Lanka

A woman plants ginger in Indonesia© InfoIn Indonesia we built more than 2,200 earthquake resistant homes and gave more than £4 million in cash to survivors to help rebuild their livelihoods.

In the Maldives, we built 466 new homes across five islands. On one island, Vilufushi, land had to be reclaimed from the sea before construction could begin. Our livelihoods and disaster management projects in the Maldives helped 3,000 people strengthen their livelihoods.

In Sri Lanka, we provided boats and nets to fishing communities in Batticaloa as well as thousands of cash grants to help people develop existing or new livelihoods, such as honey bee production, tree planting, furniture manufacturing and bicycle repair workshops. Nearly 7,000 families displaced by conflict in tsunami areas also received food and cash grants. 

Communities in all three countries also participated in programmes to prepare them for future disasters. For example, in Indonesia, a Red Cross programme taught people to design and build safer houses, with 15 community buildings constructed as a result. 

Learn about our livelihoods programmes

More about building new homes

Find out how we prepare people for future disasters

Read month-by-month accounts of how we helped people following the tsunami.

How we helped Britons after the tsunami