Banda Aceh, Indonesia: 6:58am December 26th, 2004

Locked in place for centuries, a 750 mile stretch of fault line off Sumatra's coast finally snapped. A magnitude 9 earthquake lifted the seabed by as much as 16 feet. The energy contained in this upsurge of the water column generated an unimaginable wave. At first water was pulled away from shore, followed by a huge swell that raced toward the coastline. As the wave approached shallow water, its speed slowed, its wavelength shortened, and its height increased to as much as 80 feet; it hit the coastline as a breaking wave, devastating everything in its path. Seen from the air, the devastation in Banda Aceh is apparent, on the ground the impact seems more personal, more relevant. Neighborhoods lie in ruin, personal belongings and bodies lie all around. Only heavily constructed mosques and the occasional palm tree are left standing, the scene can only be described as surreal.

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