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Flashback: The massive devastation caused by the tsunami which tore lives apart

Today is the tenth anniversary of the devastating 2004 tsunami which hit thirteen countries from Africa to Thailand.

IT WAS THE most destructive tsunami in human history.

On 26 December 2004 an earthquake struck in the Indian Ocean, generating a giant wave that sped across the ocean at the speed of a jet airplane.

The tsunami was less than 1 metre high in the open ocean, but by the time it reached the shore, the height of the wave had increased to 15 metres in some areas.

Thirteen countries were hit from Africa to Thailand, with Indonesia being the first and also the worst affected.

The effects were catastrophic. An estimated 250,000 died – up to one third of them children, who would not have been strong enough to resist the force of the water –  while two million were made homeless.

National Geographic notes that many people were crushed by debris or when the sea hurled them against structures.

On the tenth anniversary of the disaster, these are some of the strongest and most moving images from Press Association showing the devastation caused by the killer wave.

INDONESIA TSUNAMI INSURANCE Source: Bullit Marquez/AP/Press Association

Survivors rummage through the debris in Banda Aceh in northwest Indonesia, five days after the tsunami.

INDIA TSUNAMI WOUNDED ISLANDS Source: AP/Press Association Images

Women and children sit in a crowded plane as they are evacuated from islands off the south east coast of India on 28 December 2004.

TOPIX QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

Rescue and clean-up crews survey a flooded lobby at a beach hotel on Phuket Island, Thailand, two days after the tsunami.

INDIA QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

People displaced by the tsunami mourn their losses at a relief camp at a temple in Varichikudi in India the day after the tsunami.

TOPIX THAILAND QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

Friends and family members search through debris for the bodies of loved ones near Takuapa, Thailand, two days after the tsunami.

Tsunami in Thailand Source: AP/Press Association Images

A British tourist walks along Patong Beach near a wreckage of a boat days after the tsunami.

Tsunami in Indonesia Source: AP/Press Association Images

Local villagers use a makeshift raft to cross a river where a bridge destroyed by the tsunami once stood.

THAILAND QUAKE TIDAL WAVE TOPIX Source: AP/Press Association Images

Cranes lift vehicles and scattered debris in between hotels along Patong Beach on Phuket Island.

TOPIX THAILAND QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

Bodies lie in front of a shop area near Takuapa, Thailand, two days after the tsunami.

TOPIX INDIA QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

Local fisherwomen gestsure for assistance to a hovering navy helicopter at a fishermen’s colony in Nagappattinam in India five days after the tsunami.

SWEDEN TSUNAMI CHILDREN Source: AP/Press Association Images

Seven-year-old Karl Nilsson of Sweden displays a hand written sign asking for help in finding his family, two days after the tsunami. His parents and two brothers died in the disaster.

Tsunami Lasting Images Beach Body Source: AP/Press Association Images

A man’s body is removed by recovery workers from wreckage caused by the tsunami in Khao Lak, Thailand.

THAILAND QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

Volunteers load bodies into coffins in preparation for cremation two days after the tsunami near Takuapa, Thailand.

INDONESIA QUAKE TIDAL WAVES Source: AP/Press Association Images

A woman cries at a temporary mortuary of victims in Banda Aceh.

10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

An aerial view of the devastated Sumatran coastal village of Kuede Teunom.

10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The battered beach of Unawatuna in Galle, southern Sri Lanka, eight days after the tsunami.

THAILAND QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

Emergency personnel carry a body out of a water-front travel agency along Patong Beach on Phuket Island, Thailand, two days after the tsunami.

INDONESIA QUAKE TIDAL WAVE Source: AP/Press Association Images

People walk through a street near victims of the quake and tsunami in Banda Aceh.

10th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The clearing-up process in Galle, southern Sri Lanka.

Indonesia Tsunami Anniversary Source: AP/Press Association Images

Workers install the names of the victims on the wall of the Tsunami Museum earlier this month ahead of the 10th anniversary.

Read: 14-year-old girl reunited with her family after being swept away by tsunami 10 years ago > 

Read: These are the ten cities most at risk of being hit by natural disasters > 

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