A tsunami is a very large and powerful wave caused by
earthquakes under the sea. On 26 December 2004, a tsunami
hit Thailand and parts of India such as the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands, and the Tamil Nadu coast. Here are some
stories of courage and survival.
Did animals sense that a tsunami was coming? Some stories
suggest that they did.
These stories are all from the Andaman and Nicobar
Ignesious was the manager of a cooperative society
in Katchall. His wife woke him up at 6 a.m. because she
felt an earthquake. Ignesious carefully took his television
set off its table and put it down on the ground so that it
would not fall and break. Then the family rushed out of
When the tremors stopped, they saw the sea rising.
In the chaos and confusion, two of his children caught
hold of the hands of their mother's father and mother's
brother, and rushed in the opposite direction. He never
saw them again. His wife was also swept away. Only the
three other children who came with him were saved.
Sanjeev was a policeman, serving in the Katchall island
of the Nicobar group of islands. He somehow managed to
save himself, his wife and his baby daughter from the
waves. But then he heard cries for help from the wife of
John, the guesthouse cook. Sanjeev jumped into the water
to rescue her, but they were both swept away.
Thirteen year-old Meghna was swept away along with
her parents and seventy-seven other people. She spent
two days floating in the sea, holding on to a wooden door.
Eleven times she saw relief helicopters overhead, but they
did not see her. She was brought to the shore by a wave,
and was found walking on the seashore in a daze.
Almas Javed was ten years old. She was a student of
Carmel Convent in Port Blair where her father had a
petrol pump. Her mother Rahila's home was in
Nancowry island. The family had gone there to celebrate
When the tremors came early in the morning, the
family was sleeping. Almas's father saw the sea water
recede. He understood that the water would come
rushing back with great force. He woke everyone up
and tried to rush them to a safer place.
As they ran, her grandfather was hit on the head by
something and he fell down. Her father rushed to help
him. Then came the first giant wave that swept both of
Almas's mother and aunts stood clinging to the
leaves of a coconut tree, calling out to her. A wave
uprooted the tree, and they too were washed away.
Almas saw a log of wood floating. She climbed on to
it. Then she fainted. When she woke up, she was in a
hospital in Kamorta. From there she was brought to
The little girl does not want to talk about the incident
with anyone. She is still traumatised.
-------------------------------------- (Story from Thailand)
The Smith family from South-East England were
celebrating Christmas at a beach resort in southern
Thailand. Tilly Smith was a ten-year-old schoolgirl; her
sister was seven years old. Their parents were Penny
and Colin Smith.
It was 26 December 2004. Deadly tsunami waves
were already on their way. They had been triggered
by a massive earthquake off northern Sumatra earlier
"The water was swelling and kept coming in," Penny
Smith remembered. "The beach was getting smaller and
smaller. I didn't know what was happening."
But Tilly Smith sensed that something was wrong.
Her mind kept going back to a geography lesson she
had taken in England just two weeks before she flew
out to Thailand with her family.
Tilly saw the sea slowly rise, and start to foam, bubble
and form whirlpools. She remembered that she had seen
this in class in a video of a tsunami that had hit the
Hawaiian islands in 1946. Her geography teacher had
shown her class the video, and told them that tsunamis
can be caused by earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides.
Tilly started to scream at her family to get off the
beach. "She talked about an earthquake under the sea.
She got more and more hysterical," said her mother
Penny. "I didn't know what a tsunami was. But seeing
my daughter so frightened, I thought something serious
must be going on."
Tilly's parents took her and her sister away from the
beach, to the swimming pool at the hotel. A number of
other tourists also left the beach with them. "Then it
was as if the entire sea had come out after them. I was
The family took refuge in the third floor of the hotel.
The building withstood the surge of three tsunami waves.
If they had stayed on the beach, they would not have
The Smiths later met other tourists who had lost
entire families. Thanks to Tilly and her geography lesson,
they had been forewarned. Tilly went back to her school
in England and told her classmates her terrifying tale.
Before the giant waves slammed into the coast in
India and Sri Lanka, wild and domestic animals seemed
to know what was about to happen. They fled to safety.
According to eyewitness accounts, elephants screamed
and ran for higher ground; dogs refused to go outdoors;
flamingoes abandoned their low-lying breeding areas;
and zoo animals rushed into their shelters and could
not be enticed to come back out.
Many people believe that animals possess a sixth
sense and know when the earth is going to shake. Some
experts believe that animals' more acute hearing helps
them to hear or feel the earth's vibration. They can sense
an approaching disaster long before humans realise
what's going on.
We cannot be sure whether animals have a sixth
sense or not. But the fact is that the giant waves that
rolled through the Indian Ocean killed more than
150,000 people in a dozen countries; but not many
animals have been reported dead.
Along India's Cuddalore coast, where thousands of
people perished, buffaloes, goats and dogs were found
unharmed. The Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is home
to a variety of animals including elephants, leopards,
and 130 species of birds. Sixty visitors were washed
away from the Patanangala beach inside the park; but
no animal carcasses were found, except for two water
buffaloes. About an hour before the tsunami hit, people
at Yala National Park had observed three elephants
running away from the Patanangala beach.
A Sri Lankan gentleman who lives on the coast near
Galle said his two dogs would not go for their daily run
on the beach. "They are usually excited to go on this
outing," he said. But on that day they refused to go,
and most probably saved his life.
Betty at the Party.
'When I was at the party,'
Said Betty, aged just four,
'A little girl fell off her chair
Right down upon the floor;
And all the other little girls
Began to laugh, but me -
I didn't laugh a single bit',
Said Betty seriously.
'Why not?' - her mother asked her,
Full of delight to find
That Betty - bless her little heart! -
Had been so sweetly kind.
'Why didn't you laugh, my darling?
Or don't you like to tell?'
'I didn't laugh,' said Betty,
'Because it was I that fell.'
When the jet sprang into the sky,
it was clear why the city
had developed the way it had,
seeing it scaled six inches to the mile.
There seemed an inevitability
about what on ground had looked haphazard,
unplanned and without style
When the jet sprang into the sky.
When the jet reached ten thousand feet,
it was clear why the country
had cities where the rivers ran
and why the valleys were populated.
The logic of geography —
that land and water attracted man —
was clearly delineated
When the jet reached ten thousand feet.
When the jet rose six miles high,
it was clear the earth was round
and that it had more sea than land.
But it was difficult to understand
that the men on the earth found
causes to hate each other, to build
walls across cities and to kill.
From that height, it was not clear why.
Online Lessons with Spoken text and correct pronounciation