Publish Date: Jan. 10, 2005
Cover Story: Sea of Sorrow
How TIME Covered the News: The third largest earthquake in recorded history struck off the coast of Sumatra on Boxing Day 2004. The 9.3-magnitude strength tremors unleashed waves that shook the whole Indian Ocean world, ravaging coastlines from Indonesia to East Africa and virtually everywhere in between. By the time waters receded, they had claimed nearly 220,000 lives in more than a dozen nations.
“It’s worth noting that the Sumatran quake wasn’t the deadliest temblor in modern times. In 1976 as many as 750,000 people died in a huge quake that leveled the northern Chinese town of Tangshan. But at that time China was a closed society, a place that did not willingly present the face of its tragedies to the outside world. Few places are like that today. What made last week’s disaster so extraordinary was the way in which it was a truly global event. The tsunami placed a girdle of death around half the earth.”